Overexpression of mac25 in the prostate cancer cell line M12 effects a dramatic reversal of the transformed phenotype. cDNA array analysis of RNA from cells overproducing the mac25 protein (M12/mac25) indicated upregulation of the sex determining transcription factor SOX9. In this study, we have confirmed increased expression of SOX9 in M12/mac25 cells and have further investigated the physiological effects of increased SOX9 production. Greatly increased levels of SOX9 RNA and mature protein were demonstrated in cells transfected with a SOX9 cDNA (M12/SOX9), and gel mobility shift assays confirmed binding of nuclear protein from these cells to an oligonucleotide containing the SOX9 consensus binding sequence. M12/SOX9 cells assumed the spindle-shaped morphology characteristic of M12/mac25 cells, suggesting that SOX9 mediates some effects of mac25. Elevated expression of SOX9 resulted in a decreased rate of cellular proliferation, cell cycle arrest in G0/G1, and increased sensitivity to apoptosis. Tumor development in athymic nude mice was inhibited by 80%. Finally, prostate-specific antigen and the androgen receptor, two genes whose expression is characteristic of differentiated cells, were both upregulated in M12/SOX9 cells. These data indicate that SOX9 contributes to growth regulation by mac25 via inhibition of cell growth and promotion of differentiation.