The RING domain is a conserved zinc finger motif, which serves as a protein-protein interaction interface. Searches of a human heart expressed sequence tag data base for genes encoding the RING domain identified a novel cDNA, named striated muscle RING zinc finger protein (SMRZ). The SMRZ cDNA is 1.9 kilobase pairs in length and encodes a polypeptide of 288 amino acid residues; analysis of the peptide sequence demonstrated an N-terminal RING domain. Fluorescence in situ hybridization localized SMRZ to chromosome 1p33-34. Northern blots demonstrated that SMRZ is expressed exclusively in striated muscle. In the cardiovascular system, SMRZ is more highly expressed in the fetal heart than in the adult heart (slightly higher expression in the ventricle than in the atrium), suggesting that SMRZ is developmentally regulated. SMRZ was found to interact with SMT3b, a ubiquitin-like protein, through the SMRZ-RING domain. This interaction was abolished by mutagenesis of conserved RING domain residues. Transient transfection of SMRZ into C2C12 myoblasts showed localization of SMRZ to the nucleus. These data suggest that SMRZ may play an important role in striated muscle cell embryonic development and perhaps in cell cycle regulation.