The Inhibitor of Growth (ING) gene family is an emerging putative type II tumor suppressor gene (TSG). Proteins of INGs (ING1-5), critical modulator of the histone code via PHD fingers, are able to suppress cell growth and proliferation, induce apoptosis, and modulate cell cycle progression. ING proteins are involved in transcriptional regulation of genes, such as the p53-inducible gene p21. ING proteins also serve as shuttling proteins between nucleus and cytoplasm, and dysregulation of this nucleocytoplasmic traffic has been shown in some cancer cells. In cancer cells, ING mRNA levels are often lost or suppressed but the genes are rarely mutated. Recently the potential roles of ING proteins as prognostic biomarkers, detection of aggressive behavior of the tumor as well as prediction of chemo-radiotherapy response have also emerged. In this review, we summarize the up-to-date knowledge on functions of the ING proteins, the protein status in human tumors and discuss as a potential target in the molecular diagnostics and therapy of cancer.
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