In eukaryotic cells, protein transport between the endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi compartments is mediated in part by non-clathrin-coated vesicular coat proteins (COP). Seven COP subunits have been recognized, and represent components of a complex known as coatomer. We have previously isolated the cDNA of the human homolog of alpha-COP, designated HEP-COP and given the official gene symbol COPA. Here we report the genomic organization of COPA, which contains 33 exons ranging in size from 67 to 611 bp. Mapped by PCR and cycle sequencing, all the exon-intron junctions conformed with the GT-AG rule, the 32 introns ranging from about 80 bp to 4 kbp, with the genomic DNA of COPA estimated to span approximately 37 kb. Southern blot analysis of genomic DNAs of nine eukaryotic species, from human to yeast, revealed identical signals totaling 36 kb each for man and monkey only. Using 5' RACE and primer extension analysis, the putative transcriptional start site was localized to 466 nucleotides upstream of the translation initiation codon. Comprising a 126-nucleotide 5' untranscribed genomic sequence and a 466-nucleotide 5' noncoding cDNA sequence, the 592-nucleotide 5' CpG island lacked TATA and CAAT boxes but displayed a high G+C content, was enriched for CpG dinucleotides, and contained a potential Sp1-binding site, i.e., features compatible with a housekeeping gene. COPA was mapped by fluorescence in situ hybridization to chromosome region 1q23-->q25.