The E7 gene product of human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV16) binds to the retinoblastoma gene product (pRb) and dissociates pRb-E2F complexes. However, the observation that the ability of E7 to bind pRb is not required for the HPV16-induced immortalization of primary keratinocytes prompted a search for other cellular factors bound by E7. Using a glutathione-S-transferase (GST) fusion protein system, we show that E7 complexes with AP1 transcription factors including c-Jun, JunB, JunD and c-Fos. The ability of E7 to complex with c-Jun in vivo is demonstrated by co-immunoprecipitation and the yeast two-hybrid system. An analysis of E7 point mutants in the GST system indicates that the E7 zinc-finger motif, but not the pRb binding domain, is involved in these interactions. Using c-Jun deletion mutants, E7 binding maps between amino acids 224 and 286 of c-Jun. E7 trans-activates cJun-induced transcription from a Jun responsive promoter, and this activity correlates with the ability of E7 mutants to bind Jun proteins. Finally, a transcriptionally inactive c-Jun deletion, which can bind E7, interferes with the E7-induced transformation of rat embryo fibroblasts in cooperation with an activated ras, indicating that the Jun-E7 interaction is physiologically relevant and that Jun factors may be targeted in the E7 transformation pathway.