We present here the characterization of SPB1, an essential yeast gene that is required for ribosome synthesis. A cold-sensitive allele for that gene (referred to here as spb1-1) had been previously isolated as a suppressor of a mutation affecting the poly(A)-binding protein gene (PAB1) and a thermosensitive allele (referred to here as spb1-2) was isolated in a search for essential genes required for gene silencing in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The two mutants are able to suppress the deletion of PAB1, and they both present a strong reduction in their 60S ribosomal subunit content. In an spb1-2 strain grown at the restrictive temperature, processing of the 27S pre-rRNA into mature 25S rRNA and 5.8S is completely abolished and production of mature 18S is reduced, while the abnormal 23S species is accumulated. Spb1p is a 96.5-kDa protein that is localized to the nucleolus. Coimmunoprecipitation experiments show that Spb1p is associated in vivo with the nucleolar proteins Nop1p and Nop5/58p. Protein sequence analysis reveals that Spb1p possesses a putative S-adenosyl-L-methionine (AdoMet)-binding domain, which is common to the AdoMet-dependent methyltransferases. We show here that Spb1p is able to bind [(3)H]AdoMet in vitro, suggesting that it is a novel methylase, whose possible substrates will be discussed.