When yeast cells growing on a poor nitrogen source are supplied with NH4+ ions, several nitrogen permeases including the general amino acid permease (Gap1p) are rapidly and completely inactivated. This report shows that inactivation by NH4+ of the Gap1 permease is accompanied by its degradation. A functional NPl1 gene product is required for both inactivation and degradation of Gap1p. Molecular analysis of the NPl1 gene showed that it is identical to RSP5. The RSP5 product is a ubiquitin-protein ligase (E3 enzyme) whose physiological function was, however, unknown. Its C-terminal region is very similar to that of other members of the E6-AP-like family of ubiquitin-protein ligases. Its N-terminal region contains a single C2 domain that may be a Ca(2+)-dependent phospholipid interaction motif, followed by several copies of a recently identified domain called WW(P). The Npi1/Rsp5 protein has a homologue both in humans and in mice, the latter being involved in brain development. Stress-induced degradation of the uracil permease (Fur4p), a process in which ubiquitin is probably involved, was also found to require a functional NPl1/RSP5 product. Chromosomal deletion of NPl1/RSP5 showed that this gene is essential for cell viability. In the viable npi1/rsp5 strain, expression of NPl1/RSP5 is reduced as a result of insertion of a Ty1 element in its 5' region. Our results show that the Npi1/Rsp5 ubiquitin-protein ligase participates in induced degradation of at least two permeases, Gap1p and Fur4p, and probably also other proteins.