Background: RNA binding proteins (RBPs) play a fundamental role in posttranscriptional control of gene expression. Different RBPs have oncogenic or tumor-suppressive functions on human cancers. RNPC1 belongs to the RNA recognition motif (RRM) family of RBPs, which could regulate expression of diverse targets by mRNA stability in human cancer cells. Several studies reported that RNPC1 played an important role in cancer, mostly acting as an oncogene or up-regulating in tumors. However, its role in human breast cancer remains unclear.Methods: In the present study, we investigated the functional and mechanistic roles of RNPC1 in attenuating invasive signal including reverse epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) to inhibit breast cancer cells aggressiveness in vitro. Moreover, RNPC1 suppress tumorigenicity in vivo. Further, we studied the expression of RNPC1 in breast cancer tissue and adjacent normal breast tissue by quantitative RT-PCR (qRT-PCR) and Western blot.Results: We observed that RNPC1 expression was silenced in breast cancer cell lines compared to breast epithelial cells. More important, RNPC1 was frequently silenced in breast cancer tissue compared to adjacent normal breast tissue. Low RNPC1 mRNA expression was associated with higher clinical stages and mutp53, while low level of RNPC1 protein was associated with higher lymph node metastasis, mutp53 and lower progesterone receptor (PR). Functional assays showed ectopic expression of RNPC1 could inhibit breast tumor cell proliferation in vivo and in vitro through inducing cell cycle arrest, and further suppress tumor cell migration and invasion partly through repressing mutant p53 (mutp53) induced EMT.Conclusions: Overall, our findings indicated that RNPC1 had a potential function to play a tumor-suppressor role which may be a potential marker in the therapeutic and prognostic of breast cancer. © 2014 Xue et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.