Differential screening of a cDNA library was used to isolate genes differentially expressed in a nontumorigenic clone and a ras-transformed variant of the human teratocarcinoma cell line PA-1. The RNA transcript for one of the cDNA clones that we identified was expressed at a 25-fold higher level in the ras-transformed PA-1 cells than in the nontumorigenic PA-1 cells. DNA sequence analysis of this clone showed that it had 86% nucleic acid homology to the mouse LLRep3 gene and only differed at a single amino acid codon (codon 198), which is changed from serine in LLRep3 to threonine in this cDNA clone. The rat ribosomal S2 protein is closely related to the yeast omnipotent informational suppressor SUP44, which encodes the yeast ribosomal protein S4; to the mouse protein LLRep3; and to the human cDNA clone we describe in this report. We therefore concluded that this clone codes for the human ribosomal S2 protein. In situ hybridization experiments revealed that expression of this gene was elevated in cultured human head and neck squamous cell carcinomas compared with normal keratinocytes. In situ hybridization experiments also demonstrated that expression of this gene was elevated in histological sections of human premalignant leukoplakia, head and neck squamous cell carcinomas, and colon and breast cancers compared with the adjacent normal tissues. S2 expression may be a useful diagnostic or prognostic marker for grading human tumors.