A candidate gene for the mouse chromosome 1 host resistance locus Bcg/Ity/Lsh was recently cloned and designated Nramp (natural resistance-associated macrophage protein). Nramp is part of a small family of at least two genes, Nramp1 and Nramp2. Primer extension and cDNA cloning were used to isolate the complete 5' end of the Nramp1 mRNA. Analysis of genomic cosmid and bacteriophage clones overlapping the complete Nramp1 gene revealed that the gene was composed of 15 exons and spanned 11.5 kb of genomic DNA. Positioning of introns on the coding portion of the mRNA revealed a modular relationship between coding exons and predicted structural domains of the protein, with 8 of the 12 transmembrane (TM) domains encoded by individual exons. Northern blotting analysis indicated that Nramp1 expression was restricted to J774A.1 and RAW 264.7 macrophage lines and was dramatically increased by treatment with interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) and lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Primer extension and S1 nuclease mapping experiments were used to locate the transcription initiation site of Nramp1 and revealed the presence of one major and several minor initiation sites. Nucleotide sequencing of the corresponding region failed to detect classical TATA and CAAT elements, but identified two putative initiator sequences located near the major initiation site. Consensus sequences for binding of the macrophage and B-cell-specific transcription factor PU.1, as well as several LPS (NF-IL6) and IFN-gamma response elements, were also identified.