MaTu is a novel agent which may be of relevance in human oncogenesis, and has 2 components. One of them, the exogenous MX (coding for protein p58X), is transmissible to human fibroblasts, to HeLa and to HeLa × fibroblast (H/F) hybrids. The other component, MN, is a cellular gene. Its product, the protein p54/58N, is inducible by infecting HeLa cells with MX or by growing them in dense cultures. This p54/58N appears to be a tumor-associated antigen: it is expressed in HeLa and in tumorigenic cells (H/F-T), but not in fibroblasts or in non-tumorigenic hybrid cells (H/F-N). Proteins related to p54/58N were also found on immunoblots prepared from human carcinomas of ovary, endometrium and uterine cervix, but not from normal tissues from corresponding organs or from placenta. Using genetically engineered MN protein, we developed a radioimmunoassay for MN-specific antibodies, and for quantitative determination of MN proteins in cell extracts. In HeLa cells infected with MX we observed conspicuous ultrastructural alterations: formation of abundant filaments on the cell surface and amplification of mitochondria. Using immunogold-staining, we visualized the p54/58N on the surface microvilli and in the nucleus, particularly in nucleoli.