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The human Pur factor binds strongly to a sequence element repeated within zones of initiation of DNA replication in several eukaryotic cells. The protein binds preferentially to the purine-rich single strand of this element, PUR. We report here the cloning and sequencing of a cDNA encoding a protein with strong affinity for the PUR element. Analysis with a series of mutated oligonucleotides defines a minimal single-stranded DNA Pur-binding element. The expressed Pur open reading frame encodes a protein of 322 amino acids. This protein, Pur alpha, contains three repeats of a consensus motif of 23 amino acids and two repeats of a second consensus motif of 26 amino acids. Near its carboxy terminus, the protein possesses an amphipathic alpha-helix and a glutamine-rich domain. The repeat region of Pur cDNA is homologous to multiple mRNA species in each of several human cell lines and tissues. The HeLa cDNA library also includes a clone encoding a related gene, Pur beta, containing a version of the 23-amino-acid consensus motif similar, but not identical, to those in Pur alpha. Results indicate a novel type of modular protein with capacity to bind repeated elements in single-stranded DNA.