The Tristetraprolin Family of RNA-Binding Proteins in Cancer: Progress and Future Prospects

Cancers (Basel). 2020 Jun 11;12(6):1539. doi: 10.3390/cancers12061539.


Post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression plays a key role in cellular proliferation, differentiation, migration, and apoptosis. Increasing evidence suggests dysregulated post-transcriptional gene expression as an important mechanism in the pathogenesis of cancer. The tristetraprolin family of RNA-binding proteins (RBPs), which include Zinc Finger Protein 36 (ZFP36; commonly referred to as tristetraprolin (TTP)), Zinc Finger Protein 36 like 1 (ZFP36L1), and Zinc Finger Protein 36 like 2 (ZFP36L2), play key roles in the post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression. Mechanistically, these proteins function by binding to the AU-rich elements within the 3'-untranslated regions of their target mRNAs and, in turn, increasing mRNA turnover. The TTP family RBPs are emerging as key regulators of multiple biological processes relevant to cancer and are aberrantly expressed in numerous human cancers. The TTP family RBPs have tumor-suppressive properties and are also associated with cancer prognosis, metastasis, and resistance to chemotherapy. Herein, we summarize the various hallmark molecular traits of cancers that are reported to be regulated by the TTP family RBPs. We emphasize the role of the TTP family RBPs in the regulation of trait-associated mRNA targets in relevant cancer types/cell lines. Finally, we highlight the potential of the TTP family RBPs as prognostic indicators and discuss the possibility of targeting these TTP family RBPs for therapeutic benefits.

Keywords: RNA-binding proteins; ZFP36; post-transcriptional regulation; tristetraprolin; tumor suppressor.

Publication types

  • Review