Sequencing of the XRN1 gene of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, cloned in this laboratory as a gene encoding a 160-kDa 5'-->3' exoribonuclease (XRN1), shows that it is identical to a gene (DST2 or SEP1) encoding a DNA strand transferase and to genes involved in nuclear fusion, KEM1, and plasmid stability, RAR5. To better understand the various phenotypes associated with loss of XRN1 and the enzymatic activities associated with the protein, certain characteristics of our yeast cells lacking an active gene (xrn1) have been examined. Cells are larger (average volume is x 1.5-1.8) and have an increased doubling time (x1.9-2.1). The protein synthesis rate per cell is 80-90% that of wild-type (wt) cells, and the resultant cellular protein levels are higher. The rate of the 25S and 18S rRNA synthesis is approximately 45% that of wt cells and its cellular level is about 90% that of wt cells. Levels of protein bands resolved by one-dimensional PAGE show substantial differences. Synthesis rates observed for the same protein bands, as well as measurements of several specific mRNA levels by Northern analysis, suggest disparities in mRNA levels. Results show two to four times longer half-lives of specific short-lived mRNAs. The variations in levels of protein and RNA species found in the xrn1 cells may be the cause of some of the phenotypes found associated with gene loss.