Murine TIS7 and TIS21 cDNAs were cloned from phorbol ester-induced Swiss 3T3 cells. The cognate rat cDNAs, PC4 and PC3, were cloned from nerve growth factor (NGF)-treated PC12 pheochromocytoma cells. The TIS7/PC4 and TIS21/PC3 primary response genes are rapidly and transiently induced in response to serum, phorbol esters, and polypeptide growth factors in quiescent Swiss 3T3 cells and by NGF and other ligands in PC12 cells. In both 3T3 and PC12 cells the appearance of the TIS21/PC3 message precedes that of TIS7/PC4 message following ligand stimulation, suggesting that the TIS21/PC3 protein is likely to be synthesized more rapidly than the TIS7/PC4 protein. Using antisera prepared against recombinant TIS21 and TIS7 proteins, we find that the TIS21/PC3 protein is, indeed, synthesized more rapidly than the TIS7/PC4 protein following stimulation in both 3T3 and PC12 cells. In addition, "pulse-chase" experiments demonstrate that the TIS21/PC3 protein is degraded much more rapidly than the TIS7/PC4 protein. The sequences of the predicted PC3 and PC4 proteins have lead to the speculation that these two proteins may both be secreted from cells following stimulation. The PC4 protein is reported to have some sequence similarity to interferons. The TIS21/PC3 protein contains a presumptive leader sequence. Using our antisera to the recombinant proteins, however, we cannot detect secretion of radiolabelled TIS7/PC4 or TIS21/PC3 protein. Immunohistochemical and subcellular fractionation experiments suggest that the TIS7 protein is a membrane associated, non-nuclear intracellular protein. The TIS21 protein, in contrast, is a non-nuclear, soluble intracellular protein.