The enhancer of rudimentary gene, e(r), in Drosophila melanogaster encodes a protein, ER, whose function has been implicated in pyrimidine biosynthesis and the cell cycle (Wojcik et al. (1994) Genetics 138, 1163-1170). In order to identify conserved regions of the protein and potentially important functional domains, the e(r) gene was cloned and sequenced from two other insects (Drosophila virilis and Aedes aegypti) and three vertebrates (Homo sapiens, Mus musculus, and Brachydanio rerio) and sequenced from a flowering plant (Arabidopsis thaliana). These sequences along with those of a nematode (Caenorhabditis elegans) exhibit a high degree of identity. ER of Drosophila melanogaster is 76% identical to the three vertebrate proteins, 49% identical to the nematode protein, and 40% identical to the plant protein. There is high evolutionary conservation among the vertebrates. The mouse and human proteins are identical and differ from that of the zebrafish by a single conservative amino-acid change (valine for isoleucine). A dramatic sequence conservation is seen in the position of the hydrophobic amino acids. Of the 27 positions occupied by hydrophobic amino acids in ER of Drosophila melanogaster, 25 of the corresponding positions in the human protein, 23 of the positions in Caenorhabditis elegans, and 20 of the positions in Arabidopsis thaliana have hydrophobic amino acids. Most of these residues are present in three conserved amphipathic alpha-helices, which are proposed to function in protein-protein interactions. Two phosphorylation sites for casein kinase II (CKII) have also been conserved within the animal groups. Purified ER from Drosophila melanogaster is phosphorylated in vitro by CKII, arguing that these two sites are functional in vivo. A putative shift in the secondary structure of ER caused by the phosphorylation of these sites suggests that CKII may be regulating the activity of the ER in vivo.