Mutant strains of D. discoideum are described that can complete morphogenesis and cytodifferentiation but which express vastly reduced levels of the galactose-binding lectins discoidin I and II (less than 1% and 1%-2% respectively) compared to the wild-type control. Mutant cells proceeding through development lack lectin activity, lectin protein, and specific lectin mRNA. In contrast, the genes encoding these proteins are present in their wild-type configurations in the genome. Since these proteins are encoded by four to five discrete genes, the mutations in these strains are most likely in genes involved in the regulation of the expression of members of this multigene family. The results also indicate that the discoidin lectins may not be required for fruiting body construction in this organism. Finally, coupled with the recent ability to transform D. discoideum, these mutants open the way to identification and isolation of regulatory genes and their products.