smg/rap1A/Krev-1 p21 cDNA is known to inhibit v-Ki-ras p21-induced cell transformation in NIH3T3 cells, but the inhibitory mechanism is not clear at present. In the present study, we examined the effect of smg p21s on the c-fos promoter/enhancer linked to the luciferase reporter gene (c-fos-luciferase). After transfection of c-fos-luciferase into NIH3T3 cells constitutively expressing c-Ki-ras(val-12) p21 or activated c-raf-1 kinase, expression of c-fos-luciferase was much higher than after transfection into control NIH3T3 cells. Addition of platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), 12-O-tetradecanoyl phorbol 13-acetate (TPA) or dibutyryl cyclic AMP (Bt2cAMP) to the control NIH3T3 cells stimulated c-fos-luciferase expression. Transfection of the smg p21 cDNAs inhibited the activated ras p21-, PDGF- or TPA-stimulated c-fos-luciferase expression, but did not inhibit the activated c-raf-1 kinase- or Bt2cAMP-stimulated reaction. These results indicate that smg p21s inhibit the signal pathways from the PDGF receptor, protein kinase C, and ras p21s to the c-fos promoter/enhancer, but not those from c-raf-1 kinase and cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase to the c-fos promoter/enhancer.