PURPOSE: Improved understanding of the molecular basis underlying oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) aggressive growth has significant clinical implications. Herein, cross-species genomic comparison of carcinogen-induced murine and human OSCCs with indolent or metastatic growth yielded results with surprising translational relevance. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: Murine OSCC cell lines were subjected to next-generation sequencing (NGS) to define their mutational landscape, to define novel candidate cancer genes and to assess for parallels with known drivers in human OSCC. Expression arrays identified a mouse metastasis signature and we assessed its representation in 4 independent human datasets comprising 324 patients using weighted voting and Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA). Kaplan-Meier analysis and multivariate Cox proportional hazards modeling were used to stratify outcomes. A qRT-PCR assay based on the mouse signature coupled to a machine-learning algorithm was developed and used to stratify an independent set of 31 patients with respect to metastatic lymphadenopathy. RESULTS: NGS revealed conservation of human driver pathway mutations in mouse OSCC including in Trp53, MAPK, PI3K, NOTCH, JAK/STAT and FAT1-4. Moreover, comparative analysis between The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and mouse samples defined AKAP9, MED12L and MYH6 as novel putative cancer genes. Expression analysis identified a transcriptional signature predicting aggressiveness and clinical outcomes, which were validated in 4 independent human OSCC datasets. Finally, we harnessed the translational potential of this signature by creating a clinically feasible assay that stratified OSCC patients with a 93.5% accuracy. CONCLUSIONS: These data demonstrate surprising cross-species genomic conservation that has translational relevance for human oral squamous cell cancer.