The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae contains of proteolytic system able to selectively degrade misfolded lumenal secretory proteins. For examination of the components involved in this degradation process, mutants were isolated. They could be divided into four complementation groups. The mutations led to stabilisation of two different substrates for this process. The mutant classes were called 'der' for 'degradation in the ER'. DER1 was cloned by complementation of the der1-2 mutation. The DER1 gene codes for a novel, hydrophobic protein, that is localized to the ER. Deletion of DER1 abolished degradation of the substrate proteins. The function of the Der1 protein seems to be specifically required for the degradation process associated with the ER. Interestingly this family seems distantly related to the Rhomboid family of membrane peptidases. Suggesting that this family may also mediate degradation of misfolded proteins (Bateman A pers. obs.).