In a previous study of a t(4;16)(q26;p13) translocation, found in a human malignant T-cell lymphoma the BCMA gene, located on chromosome band 16p13.1, has been characterized. In this study we show that the BCMA gene is organized into three exons and its major initiation transcription site is located 69 nucleotides downstream of a TATA box. RNase protection assays demonstrated that the BCMA gene is preferentially expressed in mature B cells, suggesting a role for this gene in the B-cell developmental process. A cDNA complementary to the BCMA cDNA was cloned and sequenced and its presence was assessed by RNase protection assay and anchor-PCR amplification. This antisense-BCMA RNA is transcribed from the same locus as BCMA, and exhibits mRNA characteristic features, e.g. polyadenylation and splicing. It also contains an ORF encoding a putative 115 aa polypeptide, presenting no homology with already known sequences. RNase protection assays demonstrated the simultaneous expression of natural sense and antisense-BCMA transcripts in the majority of human B-cell lines tested.