The lethal(3)malignant brain tumor [t(3)mbt] gene causes, when mutated, malignant growth of the adult optic neuroblasts and ganglion mother cells in the larval brain and imaginal disc overgrowth. Via overlapping deficiencies a genomic region of approximately 6.0 kb was identified, containing l(3)mbt+ gene sequences. The l(3)mbt+ gene encodes seven transcripts of 5.8 kb, 5.65 kb, 5.35 kb, 5.25 kb, 5.0 kb, 4.4 kb and 1.8 kb. The putative MBT163 protein, encompassing 1477 amino acids, is proline-rich and contains a novel zinc finger. In situ hybridizations of whole mount embryos and larval tissues revealed l(3)mbt+ RNA ubiquitously present in stage 1 embryos and throughout embryonic development in most tissues. In third instar larvae l(3)mbt+ RNA is detected in the adult optic anlagen and the imaginal discs, the tissues directly affected by l(3)mbt mutations, but also in tissues, showing normal development in the mutant, such as the gut, the goblet cells and the hematopoietic organs.