Some members of the tripartite motif (TRIM/RBCC) protein family are thought to be important regulators of carcinogenesis. This is not surprising as the TRIM proteins are involved in several biological processes, such as cell growth, development and cellular differentiation and alteration of these proteins can affect transcriptional regulation, cell proliferation and apoptosis. In particular, four TRIM family genes are frequently translocated to other genes, generating fusion proteins implicated in cancer initiation and progression. Among these the most famous is the promyelocytic leukaemia gene PML, which encodes the protein TRIM19. PML is involved in the t(15;17) translocation that specifically occurs in Acute Promyelocytic Leukaemia (APL), resulting in a PML‑retinoic acid receptor‑α (PML‑RARα) fusion protein.
Other members of the TRIM family are linked to cancer development without being involved in chromosomal re‑arrangements, possibly through ubiquitination or loss of tumour suppression functions.
This chapter discusses the biological functions of TRIM proteins in cancer.