A remarkable overlap was observed between the gadd genes, a group of often coordinately expressed genes that are induced by genotoxic stress and certain other growth arrest signals, and the MyD genes, a set of myeloid differentiation primary response genes. The MyD116 gene was found to be the murine homolog of the hamster gadd34 gene, whereas MyD118 and gadd45 were found to represent two separate but closely related genes. Furthermore, gadd34/MyD116, gadd45, MyD118, and gadd153 encode acidic proteins with very similar and unusual charge characteristics; both this property and a similar pattern of induction are shared with mdm2, whic, like gadd45, has been shown previously to be regulated by the tumor suppressor p53. Expression analysis revealed that they are distinguished from other growth arrest genes in that they are DNA damage inducible and suggest a role for these genes in growth arrest and apoptosis either coupled with or uncoupled from terminal differentiation. Evidence is also presented for coordinate induction in vivo by stress. The use of a short-term transfection assay, in which expression vectors for one or a combination of these gadd/MyD genes were transfected with a selectable marker into several different human tumor cell lines, provided direct evidence for the growth-inhibitory functions of the products of these genes and their ability to synergistically suppress growth. Taken together, these observations indicate that these genes define a novel class of mammalian genes encoding acidic proteins involved in the control of cellular growth.