A mutant screen has been designed to isolate mutants in Saccharomyces cerevisiae deficient in spore wall dityrosine. As shown by electron microscopy, most of the mutant spores lacked only the outermost, dityrosine-rich layer of the spore wall. Mutant dit101, however, was additionally lacking the chitosan layer of the spore wall. Chemical measurements showed that this mutant does not synthesize chitosan during sporulation. The mutant spores were viable but sensitive to lytic enzymes (glusulase or zymolyase). Unlike most of the dit-mutants, dit101 did show a distinctive phenotype in vegetative cells: they grew normally but contained very little chitin and were therefore resistant to the toxic chitin-binding dye, Calcofluor White. The cells showed barely detectable staining of the walls with Calcofluor White or primulin. The decrease in the amount of chitin in vegetative cells and the absence of chitosan in spores suggested that the mutant dit101 could be defective in a chitin synthase. Indeed, a genomic yeast clone harboring the gene, CSD2, sharing significant sequence similarity with yeast chitin synthases I and II (C. E. Bulawa (1992), Mol. Cell. Biol. 12, 1764-1776), complemented our mutant and was shown to correspond to the chromosomal locus of dit101. Thus, the mutations dit101 and csd2 (and probably also call; M. H. Valdivieso et al., (1991), J. Cell Biol. 114, 101-109) were shown to be allelic. The gene was mapped to chromosome II and was located about 3 kb distal of GAL1. Using this DNA clone, a transcript of about 3500-4000 nucleotides was detected. Comparing RNA isolated from vegetative cells and from sporulating cells at different times throughout the sporulation process, no significant differences in DIT101 transcript levels could be detected indicating absence of sporulation-specific transcriptional regulation. However, the amount of DIT101 transcript changed significantly at different stages of the mitotic cell cycle, peaking after septum formation, but before cytokinesis. As most of the chitin synthesis of vegetative cells occurs at this stage of the cell division cycle, chitin synthesis mediated by DIT101 could be primarily regulated at the level of transcription in vegetatively growing cells.