We previously defined the HERV-K Np9 as a viral oncogene. Here we report the discovery of a novel oncogene, Np17, which is homologous to the viral Np9 gene and predominantly present in Hominoidea. Np17 is located on chromosome 8, consists of 7 exons, and encodes a 16.8kDa nuclear protein with149 amino-acid residue. Functionally, knockdown of Np17 induced growth inhibition of leukemia cells, whereas enforced expression of Np17 promoted growth of leukemia cells in vitro and in vivo. In human leukemia, Np17 was detected in 59.65% (34/57) of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients examined and associated with refractory/relapsed AML. Mechanistically, Np17 decreased p53 levels and its mechanism might be involved in recruiting nuclear MDM2 to p53 for ubiquitin-mediated degradation. These findings reveal that Np17 is a novel oncogene associated with refractory/relapsed leukemia.