The retinoblastoma protein-interacting zinc-finger (RIZ) gene, a member of the nuclear protein methyltransferase superfamily, is characterized by the presence of the N-terminal PR domain. The RIZ gene encodes for two proteins, RIZ1 and RIZ2. While RIZ1 contains the PR (PRDI-BF1 and RIZ homologous) domain, RIZ2 lacks it. RIZ gene expression is altered in a variety of human cancers and RIZ1 is now considered to be a candidate tumor suppressor. Estradiol treatment of MCF-7 cells produced a selective decrease of RIZ1 transcript and an increase of total RIZ mRNA. Experiments of chromatin immunoprecipitation indicated that RIZ2 protein expression was controlled by estrogen receptor and RIZ1 had a direct repressor function on c-myc gene expression. To investigate the role of RIZ gene products as regulators of the proliferation/differentiation transition, we analyzed the effects of forced suppression of RIZ1 induced in MCF-7 cells by siRNA of the PR domain-containing form. Silencing of RIZ1 expression stimulated cell proliferation, similar to the effect of estradiol on these cells, associated with a transient increase of c-myc expression.