AP-1 (activating protein-1) is a collective term referring to dimeric transcription factors composed of Jun, Fos or ATF (activating transcription factor) subunits that bind to a common DNA site, the AP-1-binding site. As the complexity of our knowledge of AP-1 factors has increased, our understanding of their physiological function has decreased. This trend, however, is beginning to be reversed due to the recent studies of gene-knockout mice and cell lines deficient in specific AP-1 components. Such studies suggest that different AP-1 factors may regulate different target genes and thus execute distinct biological functions. Also, the involvement of AP-1 factors in functions such as cell proliferation and survival has been made somewhat clearer as a result of such studies. In addition, there has been considerable progress in understanding some of the mechanisms and signaling pathways involved in the regulation of AP-1 activity. In addition to regulation by heterodimerization between Jun, Fos and ATF proteins, AP-1 activity is regulated through interactions with specific protein kinases and a variety of transcriptional coactivators.