Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology: Editorial: RNA-binding proteins in cancer: advances in translational research (Penalva)

RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) regulate RNA metabolism, processing, and translation by establishing highly dynamic interactions with hundreds of coding and non-coding target RNAs within ribonucleoprotein complexes (Van Nostrand et al., 2020). Alterations in RBP expression levels or function contribute to several pathological conditions, including cancer. Though underappreciated in the past, RBPs are now recognized as a new class of cancer drivers (Gebauer et al., 2021). Most cancer hallmarks, including immune system evasion, stemness, proliferation, and cell dissemination, are regulated by RBPs (Zhou et al., 2023). Thus, the RBP contribution to cancer phenotypes can be explored in alternative therapeutic strategies.

This Research Topic embraced the most recent translational findings in RBP-mediated processes in cancer. As Editors, we had the pleasure of accepting for publication five original research articles and one review, which discussed RBPs’ role in post-transcriptional processes and their implications for tumor subtyping, response to treatment, and survival.

As highlighted by García-Cárdenas et al., the identification of tumorigenic RBPs could fulfil the need to discover accurate and sensitive therapeutic targets for specific tumor subtypes. The authors highlighted that distinct RBPs are involved in colon (COAD) and rectal (READ) carcinomas. By combining genomic, transcriptomic, proteomic, and interactions data from 488 COAD, 155 READ patients, and 102 cancer cell lines, they were able to assign oncogenic RBPs for each tumour subtype. In COAD, the authors identified NAT10, NOP56, RBM12 and FKBP1A while in READ, CSE1L, and EMG1 were pointed out as the ones with the strongest potential for clinical applications.

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