Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) has pleiotropic effects on cellular metabolism. One of the signaling paths from the TNFalpha receptor induces a stress-activated protein kinase cascade. Components within this TNFalpha kinase cascade include mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase kinase kinase 1 (MEKK1) and stress-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase kinase (SEK), which regulate the activity of c-Jun N-terminal kinase 1 (JNK1). Currently, molecules upstream of MEKK1 that link TNFalpha receptor to downstream kinases are not well understood. Besides TNFalpha, many other stimuli including several oncoproteins can activate JNK1. In most cases, the signaling cascade(s) leading from oncoproteins to JNK1 is poorly elucidated. We report here that the human T-cell lymphotrophic virus, type I (HTLV-I) oncoprotein, Tax, can activate JNK1. We isolated a novel human cell factor, G-protein pathway suppressor 2 (GPS2), by its ability to bind the HTLV-I oncoprotein, and we show that this factor can potently suppress Tax activation of JNK1. In trying to understand the mechanism of GPS2 activity, we found that it also suppressed TNFalpha activation of JNK1 but not TNFalpha activation of p38 kinase nor phorbol activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 2. Because GPS2 has minimal effect on MEKK1- or SEK-regulated JNK1 activity, it could act at a point between the TNFalpha receptor and MEKK1 in the initial step(s) of this kinase cascade. Alternatively, it is not excluded that GPS2 could work in a parallel pathway that leads from TNFalpha to JNK1. GPS2 represents a new molecule that could contribute important insights toward how cytokine- and oncoprotein-mediated signal transduction might converge.