The multiple functions of TRBP, at the hub of cell responses to viruses, stress, and cancer

Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 2012 Sep;76(3):652-66. doi: 10.1128/MMBR.00012-12.


The TAR RNA binding protein (TRBP) has emerged as a key player in many cellular processes. First identified as a cellular protein that facilitates the replication of human immunodeficiency virus, TRBP has since been shown to inhibit the activation of protein kinase R (PKR), a protein involved in innate immune responses and the cellular response to stress. It also binds to the PKR activator PACT and regulates its function. TRBP also contributes to RNA interference as an integral part of the minimal RNA-induced silencing complex with Dicer and Argonaute proteins. Due to its multiple functions in the cell, TRBP is involved in oncogenesis when its sequence is mutated or its expression is deregulated. The depletion or overexpression of TRBP results in malignancy, suggesting that the balance of TRBP expression is key to normal cellular function. These studies show that TRBP is multifunctional and mediates cross talk between different pathways. Its activities at the molecular level impact the cellular function from normal development to cancer and the response to infections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cells / cytology
  • Cells / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Heat-Shock Response / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Virus Diseases / immunology*
  • Virus Diseases / metabolism
  • Viruses / pathogenicity


  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • trans-activation responsive RNA-binding protein