In a previous large-scale analysis of gene expression in pancreatic cancer using gridded arrays of cDNA libraries and differential hybridizations, a gene that was a homolog to human mss4 was identified. Mss4 is a guanine-nucleotide-exchange factor for the Sec4/ Ypt1/Rab family of small GTP-binding proteins involved in the regulation of intracellular vesicular transport. By fluorescence in situ hybridization the human mss4 gene was assigned to chromosome 1q32-q41. Northern blot analysis revealed that three mss4 mRNA species are transcribed in human tissues of 780, 1200, and 2800 bp in length, respectively. Cloning and sequencing of the human mss4 transcripts from a pancreatic cancer cDNA library revealed that these mRNA species differ in the length of the 3-untranslated region and are probably due to the alternate use of polyadenylation sites. All mRNA species were detected at moderate to high levels in pancreatic cancer cell lines and were overexpressed in pancreatic cancer tissue compared to both normal pancreas and chronic pancreatitis tissue. However, the 1200-bp transcript was the Mss4 mRNA species with the highest level of expression in more than 50% of tumor cells and tissues. High levels of expression were found as well in other human tumor tissues. Mss4 as guanine-exchange factor required in the regulation of intracellular transport may be of importance for the function and growth of human tumor cells. However, the precise role of mss4 in human tumor cells is unknown and remains to be elucidated.