Understanding and targeting the disease-related RNA binding protein human antigen R (HuR)

Christopher W. Schultz, Ranjan Preet, Teena Dhir, Dan A. Dixon, Jonathan R. Brody

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Altered gene expression is a characteristic feature of many disease states such as tumorigenesis, and in most cancers, it facilitates cancer cell survival and adaptation. Alterations in global gene expression are strongly impacted by post-transcriptional gene regulation. The RNA binding protein (RBP) HuR (ELAVL1) is an established regulator of post-transcriptional gene regulation and is overexpressed in most human cancers. In many cancerous settings, HuR is not only overexpressed, but it is “overactive” as denoted by increased subcellular localization within the cytoplasm. This dysregulation of HuR expression and cytoplasmic localization allows HuR to stabilize and increase the translation of various prosurvival messenger RNA (mRNAs) involved in the pathogenesis of numerous cancers and various diseases. Based on almost 20 years of work, HuR is now recognized as a therapeutic target. Herein, we will review the role HuR plays in the pathophysiology of different diseases and ongoing therapeutic strategies to target HuR. We will focus on three ongoing-targeted strategies: (1) inhibiting HuR's translocation from the nucleus to the cytoplasm; (2) inhibiting the ability of HuR to bind target RNA; and (3) silencing HuR expression levels. In an oncologic setting, HuR has been demonstrated to be critical for a cancer cell's ability to survive a variety of cancer relevant stressors (including drugs and elements of the tumor microenvironment) and targeting this protein has been shown to sensitize cancer cells further to insult. We strongly believe that targeting HuR could be a powerful therapeutic target to treat different diseases, particularly cancer, in the near future. This article is categorized under: RNA in Disease and Development > RNA in Disease NRA Turnover and Surveillance > Regulation of RNA Stability Translation > Translation Regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1581
JournalWiley interdisciplinary reviews. RNA
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • HuR
  • RNA binding proteins
  • cancer
  • nanoparticles
  • small molecules

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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