c-Jun is an oncogenic transcription factor involved in the regulation of cell proliferation, apoptosis and transformation. We have previously reported that cell transformations induced by ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) and c-Ha-ras oncogene, commonly activated in various cancer cells, are associated with constitutively increased phosphorylation of c-Jun on Ser residues 63 and 73. In the present study, we examined the significance of c-Jun phosphorylation and activation on the phenotype of the ODC- and ras-transformants, by using specific inhibitors and dominant-negative (DN) mutants to c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) and its upstream kinase, SEK1/MKK4 (mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 4), and to c-Jun. The transformed morphology of both the ODC- and ras-expressing cells was reversed partially by JNK inhibitors and DN JNK1, more effectively by DN SEK1/MKK4 and phosphorylation-deficient c-Jun mutants (c-JunS63,73A, c-JunS63,73A,T91,93A) and most potently by a transactivation domain deletion mutant of c-Jun (TAM67). Moreover, tetracycline-inducible TAM67 expression in ODC- and ras-transformed cells showed that the transformed phenotype of the cells is reversibly regulatable. TAM67 also inhibited the tumorigenicity of the cells in nude mice. These inducible cell lines, together with their parental cell lines, provide good models to identify the genes and proteins relevant to cellular transformation.