TAL-1 is a basic helix-loop-helix oncoprotein that is expressed in up to 30% of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemias but not in the T lineage. We have cloned a complementary DNA, called Human Immune Associated Nucleotide 1 (hIAN1), whose messenger RNA (mRNA) level expression is inversely correlated to the TAL-1 mRNA level in human leukemic T-cell lines. The hIAN1 encodes a 38-kd protein that belongs to a novel family of proteins conserved from plants to humans and characterized by motifs related to, but highly divergent from, the consensus motifs found in guanosine triphosphate (GTP)-binding proteins. Despite these divergent amino acids at positions involved in GTP/guanosine diphosphate (GDP) binding and guanosine triphosphatase (GTPase) activities, we found that hIAN1 specifically binds GDP (K(d) = 0.47 microM) and GTP (K(d) = 6 microM) and exhibits intrinsic GTPase activity. Among mature hematopoietic cells, hIAN1 is specifically expressed in resting T and B lymphocytes, and its expression level tremendously decreased at the protein but not the mRNA level during B- or T-lymphocyte activation, suggesting a specific role for this new type of GTPase during the immune response.