The human homologue of the hamster mitotic centromere-associated kinesin (HsMCAK) gene containing a central type motor domain was isolated from a Jurkat T-cell derived cDNA library. The HsMCAK gene has a predicted 723 amino acid open reading frame, encoding a 81 kDa protein that shares 79.2% homology with hamster MCAK. Unstimulated T lymphocytes contained no detectable HsMCAK-specific mRNA. Activation of resting T-cells by immobilized anti-CD3 resulted in the expression of a 2.9-kb transcript during the S phase of the cell cycle. The TPA-induced monocytic differentiation of U937 which also results in growth-arrest abruptly downregulates the expression of HsMCAK. Removal of TPA restored the growth of the cell through the retrodifferentiation process and the subsequent expression of HsMCAK. HsMCAK is expressed in tissues containing dividing cells, such as thymus, testis, small intestine, colon (mucosal lining), and placenta. These results suggest that the expression of HsMCAK is first detected in early S phase to support the proliferative response and is strictly regulated at the transcriptional level.