A simple assay called the sectoring shuffle was developed to monitor the mutational state of essential genes cloned into yeast centromeric plasmids. The essence of this assay is the creation of a conditional phenotype, colony color sectoring, for an essential gene in the absence of conditional thermosensitive or cold-sensitive alleles of that gene. This allows the quick determination of the mutational state of a cloned essential gene by observing its effect on the sectoring phenotype of the tester strain. During the course of this work we developed a family of 20 Escherichia coli-yeast shuttle vectors, pUN plasmids, containing ARS1 CEN4 and a variety of selectable markers as well as the SUP11 gene which can act as a color marker in the proper background. These vectors are compact and have been very useful for the sectoring-shuffle assay and for gene analysis in general. This paper describes these vectors, the sectoring shuffle and several applications of sectoring phenotypes.