TIA (T-cell intracellular antigen) proteins function as DNA/RNA trans-acting regulators to expand transcriptome and proteome diversity in mammals. In the present paper we report that the stable silencing of TIA1 and/or TIAR/TIAL1 (TIA1-related/like protein 1) expression in HeLa cells enhances cell proliferation, anchorage-dependent and -independent growth and invasion. HeLa cells lacking TIA1 and/or TIAR generate larger and faster-growing epithelial tumours with high rates of proliferation and angiogenesis in nude mice xenografts. Protein array analysis of a collection of human tumours shows that TIA1 and TIAR protein expression is down-regulated in a subset of epithelial tumours relative to normal tissues. Our results suggest a link between the epigenetic control exerted by TIA proteins and the transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of a subset of specific genes involved in tumour progression. Taken together, these results are consistent with a role for TIA proteins as growth/tumour-suppressor genes.

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