We have recently demonstrated that nuclear factor-inducing kinase (NIK) plays a crucial role in osteopontin (OPN)-induced mitogen-activated protein kinase/I kappa B alpha kinase-dependent nuclear factor kappa B (NF kappa B)-mediated promatrix metalloproteinase-9 activation (Rangaswami, H., Bulbule, A., and Kundu, G. C. (2004) J. Biol. Chem. 279, 38921-38935). However, the molecular mechanism(s) by which OPN regulates NIK/MEKK1-dependent activating protein-1 (AP-1)-mediated promatrix metalloproteinase-9 activation and whether JNK1 plays any role in regulating both these pathways that control the cell motility are not well defined. Here we report that OPN induces alpha v beta3 integrin-mediated MEKK1 phosphorylation and MEKK1-dependent JNK1 phosphorylation and activation. Overexpression of NIK enhances OPN-induced c-Jun expression, whereas overexpressed NIK had no role in OPN-induced JNK1 phosphorylation and activation. Sustained activation of JNK1 by overexpression of wild type but not kinase negative MEKK1 resulted in suppression of ERK1/2 activation. But this did not affect the OPN-induced NIK-dependent ERK1/2 activation. OPN stimulated both NIK and MEKK1-dependent c-Jun expression, leading to AP-1 activation, whereas NIK-dependent AP-1 activation is independent of JNK1. OPN also enhanced JNK1-dependent/independent AP-1-mediated urokinase type plasminogen activator (uPA) secretion, uPA-dependent promatrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) activation, cell motility, and invasion. OPN stimulates tumor growth, and the levels of c-Jun, AP-1, urokinase type plasminogen activator, and MMP-9 were higher in OPN-induced tumor compared with control. To our knowledge this is first report that OPN induces NIK/MEKK1-mediated JNK1-dependent/independent AP-1-mediated pro-MMP-9 activation and regulates the negative crosstalk between NIK/ERK1/2 and MEKK1/JNK1 pathways that ultimately controls the cell motility, invasiveness, and tumor growth.