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Oncogene. 2010 Jul 22;29(29):4205-15. doi: 10.1038/onc.2010.168. Epub 2010 May 24.

The RNA-binding zinc-finger protein tristetraprolin regulates AU-rich mRNAs involved in breast cancer-related processes.

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Program in BioMolecular Research, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


Tristetraprolin (TTP or ZFP36) is a tandem CCCH zinc-finger RNA-binding protein that regulates the stability of certain AU-rich element (ARE) mRNAs. Recent work suggests that TTP is deficient in cancer cells when compared with normal cell types. In this study we found that TTP expression was lower in invasive breast cancer cells (MDAMB231) compared with normal breast cell lines MCF12A and MCF-10. TTP targets were probed using a novel approach by expressing the C124R zinc-finger TTP mutant that functions as dominant negative and increases target mRNA expression. In contrast to wild-type TTP, C124R TTP was able to increase certain ARE-mRNA expressions in serum-stimulated breast cancer cells. Using an ARE-gene microarray, novel targets of TTP regulation were identified, namely, urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA), uPA receptor and matrix metalloproteinase-1, all known to have prominent roles in breast cancer invasion and metastasis. Expression of these targets was upregulated in tumorigenic types, particularly in highly invasive MDAMB231. The mRNA half-lives of these TTP-regulated genes were increased in TTP-knockout embryonic mouse fibroblasts, as assessed using real-time polymerase chain reaction, whereas forced restoration of TTP by transfection led to a reduction in their mRNA levels. RNA immunoprecipitation confirmed an association of TTP, but not C124R, with these target transcripts. Moreover, TTP reduced, whereas the mutant C124R TTP increased, the activity of reporter constructs fused to target ARE. As a result of TTP regulation, invasiveness of MDAMB231 cells was reduced. The data suggest that TTP, in a 3' untranslated region-and ARE-dependent manner, regulates an important subset of cancer-related genes that are involved in cellular growth, invasion and metastasis.

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