A high level of nucleoside diphosphate kinase A (NDPK A/nm23-H1) in neuroblastoma is associated with advanced stage disease. We have also found a serine 120-->glycine substitution in NDPK A and/or amplification of the nm23-H1 gene in advanced stage neuroblastomas. Serine 120, a highly conserved residue, is located in proximity to histidine 118 which forms a phosphorylated intermediate essential for NDPK activity. The effect of Ser120-->Gly substitution on the biochemical properties of NDPK A was investigated. Phosphate-transferase activity was lower in the recombinant mutant NDPK A and in the immunoprecipitated complex consisting of NDPK A and NDPK B prepared from a neuroblastoma tumor containing the mutation, relative to the wild-type. There was a significant decrease in the enzyme stability toward urea- or temperature-induced denaturation for the recombinant mutant NDPK A and in an immunoprecipitate from a tumor containing the mutation. Recombinant NDPK A containing the Ser120-->Gly mutation exhibited reduced hexameric and increased dimeric oligomerization relative to the wild-type. Moreover a 28 kDa cellular protein was detected, that co-precipitated with the mutant but not wild-type NDPK A. The altered properties of the mutant protein may have relevance to a role for NDPK A in neuroblastoma progression.