Overexpression of neu (also known as c-erbB-2 or HER-2) commonly occurs in human cancer and is also known to enchance tumor metastasis and chemoresistance. Our earlier reports showed that the adenovirus 5 E1A can suppresss the neu-mediated transformation by repression of neu. Thus, E1A has the potential to be used as a therapeutic agent against the neu-overexpressing human cancers. However, a serious concern to this approach is that E1A is also capable of immortalizing primary culture cells and can co-operate with ras or E1B oncogenes to transform them. The E1A CR2 domain (amino acid residues 120 to 140) necessary for binding to RB is believed to be required for this oncogenic function. Here, we report that deletion of CR2 region did not affect E1A's capability to repress neu. Interestingly, deletion of the amino acid residues 4 to 25 or 40 to 80 completely disrupted E1A-mediated neu repression. By deleting the amino acid residues from 81 to 185, we have successfully generated a mini-E1A mutant that was sufficient to inhibit neu promoter activity and suppress neu-mediated transformation. The mini-E1A mutant does not contain the CR2 domain that is crucial for RB binding and immortalization, and hence, may serve as a more selective tumor suppressor, and a safer therapeutic agent. It may also be a useful tool to further investigate the molecular mechanism(s) of neu overexpression and E1A-mediated transcriptional repression in cancer cells.