We previously reported a 40-transcripts signature marking the normal mucosa to colorectal adenocarcinoma transition. Eight of these mRNAs also showed splicing alterations, including a specific intron 3 retention in tissue metalloprotease inhibitor I (TIMP1), which decreased during the early steps of colorectal cancer progression. To decipher the mechanism of intron 3 retention/splicing, we first searched for putative RNA binding protein binding sites onto the TIMP1 sequence. We identified potential serine arginine rich splicing factor 1 (SRSF1) and heterogeneous nuclear RiboNucleoProtein A1 (hnRNPA1) binding sites at the end of intron 3 and the beginning of exon 4, respectively. RNA immunoprecipitation showed that hnRNPA1, but not SRSF1 could bind to the corresponding region in TIMP1 pre-mRNA in live cells. Furthermore, using a TIMP1-based ex vivo minigene approach, together with a plasmon resonance in vitro RNA binding assay, we confirmed that hnRNPA1 could indeed bind to wild type TIMP1 exon 4 pre-mRNA and control TMP1 intron 3 splicing, the interaction being abolished in presence of a mutant sequence that disrupted this site. These results indicated that hnRNPA1, upon binding to TIMP1 exon 4, was a positive regulator of intron 3 splicing. We propose that this TIMP1-intron 3 + transcript belongs to the class of nuclear transcripts with “detained” introns, an abundant molecular class, including in cancer.