Upstream stimulatory factors (USF/MLTF) belong to the c-myc family of transcription factors. Through binding to target DNA as dimers, the ubiquitous USF proteins regulate a variety of genes. USF proteins are encoded by two genes, USF1 and USF2. Protein sequences of USF1 and 2 are highly homologous across species, suggesting functional conservation. To determine whether the genomic organization was conserved between USF1 and USF2, we isolated the murine USF1 gene and characterized its genomic structure. Both genes are similarly organized in 10 exons spanning over 10 kbp. By the 5'-rapid amplification of cDNA ends and S1 nuclease mapping methods, exon 1 was defined and the transcription initiation sites were mapped. The sequence of 8 kb of the gene, including 1.75 kb of 5'-flanking DNA, was determined. The promoter region is GC rich and lacks a typical TATA or CCAAT element. Strikingly, a comparison of the murine and human untranslated sequences reveals regions that exhibit greater than 73% sequence identity. A genomic alignment of the dimerization and DNA binding domains is presented for five genes of the c-myc family, suggesting a hypothetical common ancestor gene.