Cytogenetic, molecular and functional analysis has shown that chromosome region 6q27 harbors a senescence inducing gene and a tumor suppressor gene involved in several solid and hematologic malignancies. We have cloned at 6q27 and characterized the RNASE6PL gene which belongs to a family of cytoplasmic RNases highly conserved from plants, to man. Analysis of 55 primary ovarian tumors and several ovarian tumor cell lines indicated that the RNASE6PL gene is not mutated in tumor tissues, but its expression is significantly reduced in 30% of primary ovarian tumors and in 75% of ovarian tumor cell lines. The promoter region of the gene was unaffected in tumors cell lines. Transfection of RNASE6PL cDNA into HEY4 and SG10G ovarian tumor cell lines suppressed tumorigenicity in nude mice. When tumors were induced by RNASE6PL-transfected cells, they completely lacked expression of RNASE6PL cDNA. Tumorigenicity was suppressed also in RNASE6PL-transfected pRPcT1/H6cl2T cells, derived from a human/mouse monochromosomic hybrid carrying a human chromosome 6 deleted at 6q27. Moreover, 63.6% of HEY4 clones and 42.8% of the clones of XP12ROSV, a Xeroderma pigmentosum SV40-immortalized cell line, transfected with RNASE6PL cDNA, developed a marked senescence process during in vitro growth. We therefore propose that RNASE6PL may be a candidate for the 6q27 senescence inducing and class II tumor suppressor gene in ovarian cancer.