The loss of chromosome 10 is the most frequent genetic alteration found in malignant astrocytomas. In particular, the long arm of chromosome 10 was previously reported to have two or more common deletion regions where tumor suppressor genes may be located. In this study, we performed deletion mapping of 44 malignant astrocytomas using 12 microsatellite markers on chromosome 10q and demonstrated that the minimal common region of loss of heterozygosity (LOH) was present between D10S192 and D10S566 localized at 10q25.1. Subsequently, we have identified a novel gene, termed h-neu, within the region frequently deleted and found that h-neu encodes a protein with strong homology to the Drosophila neuralized (D-neu) protein. Northern blot and RT-PCR analyses revealed that h-neu mRNA was expressed at very low levels in human malignant astrocytoma tissues and the majority of glioma cell lines examined, while normal brains expressed h-neu transcript. Furthermore, DNA sequencing analysis of the h-neu transcript revealed one of the glioma cell lines, U251MG, had a single nucleotide substitution which resulted in an amino acid change from glycine (GGC) to serine (AGC) at codon 253. The D-neu gene is known to serve a critical function in neurogenesis in Drosophila, and loss-of-function mutations produce hyperplasia of primitive neuronal cells. These observations led us to hypothesize that h-neu gene plays a role in determination of cell fate in the human central nervous system and may act as a tumor suppressor whose inactivation could be associated with malignant progression of astrocytic tumors.