A human cDNA previously isolated by virtue of its ability to complement partially the ultraviolet sensitivity of a xeroderma pigmentosum cell line was further characterized. The transcription unit is expressed as a single 4.0-kb mRNA that encodes a novel 63-kDa cytoplasmic protein, possibly initiating from an internal AUG codon. The gene encoding this protein, named UVRAG, has been extremely well conserved during evolution, implying an important role for this gene product in cell metabolism. The transcribed mRNA is constitutively expressed in a wide variety of human tissues. The protein encoded by this gene is predicted to contain a coiled-coil structure and is likely to be metabolically unstable based on the occurrence of a strong PEST domain. UVRAG was assigned to human chromosome 11 by Southern hybridization to a somatic cell hybrid panel. Fluorescence in situ hybridization coupled with PCR analysis of human/rodent somatic cell hybrids containing segments of human chromosome 11 has localized this gene to a subregion of 11q13 in between the D11S916 and the D11S906 loci. Importantly, this region has been shown to be amplified in a variety of human malignancies, including breast cancer.