The Drosophila melanogaster (Dm) gene lethal(3)73Ah, essential at the late pupal stage, encodes a protein with a novel Cys-rich sequence motif, typical for ring-finger proteins. Amino-acid sequence comparison revealed a striking homology of the entire lethal(3)73Ah sequence to the gene products of the mammalian oncogenes, mel-18 and bmi-1, and to the zinc-finger-containing N-terminal region of the Dm proteins encoded by the Posterior sex combs and Suppressor two of zeste genes. The lethal(3)73Ah gene is located in a densely transcribed region sharing 3'-untranslated sequences with the adjacent sex-determining gene, transformer. Its transcription is temporally and spatially regulated with maximal expression in adult females. In all stages the mRNA can be localized to the fat body and, in addition, to the ovaries of adult females.