We recently cloned a novel osmotic stress transcription factor 1 (OSTF1) from gills of euryhaline tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus) and demonstrated that acute hyperosmotic stress transiently increases OSTF1 mRNA and protein abundance [Fiol DF, Kültz D (2005) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA102, 927-932]. In this study, a genome-wide search was conducted to identify nine distinct mouse transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta-stimulated clone 22 domain (TSC22D) transcripts, including glucocorticoid-induced leucine zipper (GILZ), that are orthologs of OSTF1. These nine TSC22D transcripts are encoded at four loci on chromosomes 14 (TSC22D1, two splice variants), 3 (TSC22D2, four splice variants), X (TSC22D3, two splice variants), and 5 (TSC22D4). All nine mouse TSC22D transcripts are expressed in renal cortex, medulla and papilla, and in the mIMCD3 cell line. The two TSC22D3 transcripts (including GILZ) are upregulated by aldosterone but not by hyperosmolality in mIMCD3 cells. In contrast, TSC22D4 is stably upregulated by hyperosmolality in mIMCD3 cells and increased in renal papilla compared with cortex. Moreover, all four TSC22D2 transcripts are transiently upregulated by hyperosmolality and resemble tilapia OSTF1 in this regard. All TSC22D2 transcripts depend on hypertonicity as the signal for their upregulation and are unresponsive to increases in cell-permeable osmolytes. mRNA stabilization is the mechanism for TSC22D2 upregulation by hyperosmolality. Overexpression of TSC22D2-4 in mIMCD3 cells confers protection towards osmotic stress, as evidenced by a 2.7-fold increase in cell survival after 3 days at 600 mOsmol x kg(-1). Based on variable responsiveness to aldosterone and hyperosmolality in kidney cells we conclude that mouse TSC22D genes have diverse physiological functions. TSC22D2 and TSC22D4 are involved in adaptation of renal cells to hypertonicity suggesting that they represent important elements of osmosensory signal transduction in mouse kidney cells.