Southwestern screening of human fibroblast cDNAs with an upstream element of the alpha2(I) collagen promoter (Box 5A) has led to the identification of a novel gene product (RBMS3). RBMS3 contains two pairs of RNA binding motifs and is very closely related to the structure of the c-myc gene single-strand binding proteins (MSSPs). MSSPs are believed to regulate DNA replication, transcription, apopotosis and cell cycle progression by interacting with the C-MYC protein. Consonant with this postulate, RBMS3 binds in vitro to the minus strand of Box 5A and transactivates transcription in the chimeric GAL4 hybrid system. However, the RBMS3 protein mostly localizes to the cytoplasm of transfected cells, in addition to binding strongly in vitro to synthetic poly-U and poly-A oligoribonucleotides. Finally, overexpression in transfected fibroblasts of RBMS3 with and without a nuclear localization signal has no effect on Box 5A-driven transcription. The results thus exclude RBMS3 involvement in the transcriptional regulation of COL1A2 and strongly suggest a cytoplasmic function of this new member of the MSSP family. As part of the initial characterization of RBMS3 we have also established that the gene resides on human chromosome 3p23-p24 and is widely expressed in the embryo and in the adult organism.