Mitogen- and stress-activated kinase 1 (MSK1) belongs to a family of dual protein kinases that are activated by either extracellular signal-regulated kinase or p38 mitogen-activated protein kinases in response to stress or mitogenic extracellular stimuli. The physiologic role of MSK1 in malignant transformation and cancer development is not well understood. Here, we report that MSK1 is involved in 12-O-tetradecanoyl-phorbol-13-acetate (TPA)-induced or epidermal growth factor (EGF)-induced neoplastic transformation of JB6 Cl41 cells. H89, a potent inhibitor of MSK1, strongly suppressed TPA-induced or EGF-induced cell transformation. When cells overexpressing wild-type MSK1 were treated with TPA or EGF, colony formation increased substantially compared with untreated cells or cells that did not overexpress MSK1. In contrast, MSK1 COOH terminal or NH2 terminal dead dominant negative mutants dramatically suppressed cell transformation. Introduction of small interfering RNA-MSK1 into JB6 Cl41 cells resulted in suppressed TPA-induced or EGF-induced cell transformation. In addition, cell proliferation was inhibited in MSK1 knockdown cells compared with MSK1 wild-type cells. In wild-type MSK1-overexpressing cells, activator protein (AP-1) activation increased after TPA or EGF stimulation, whereas AP-1 activation decreased in both MSK1 dominant-negative mutants and in MSK1 knockdown cells. Moreover, TPA-induced or EGF-induced phosphorylation of histone H3 at Ser10 was increased in wild-type cells but the induced phosphorylation was abolished in MSK1 dominant-negative mutant or MSK1 knockdown cells. Thus, MSK1 is required for tumor promoter-induced cell transformation through its phosphorylation of histone H3 at Ser10 and AP-1 activation.