Genetic deletion of the Pten tumor suppressor gene promotes cell motility by activation of Rac1 and Cdc42 GTPases

Curr Biol. 2000 Apr 6;10(7):401-4. doi: 10.1016/s0960-9822(00)00417-6.


Pten (Phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome 10) is a recently identified tumor suppressor gene which is deleted or mutated in a variety of primary human cancers and in three cancer predisposition syndromes [1]. Pten regulates apoptosis and cell cycle progression through its phosphatase activity on phosphatidylinositol (PI) 3,4,5-trisphosphate (PI(3,4,5)P(3)), a product of PI 3-kinase [2-5]. Pten has also been implicated in controlling cell migration [6], but the exact mechanism is not very clear. Using the isogenic Pten(+/+) and Pten(-/-) mouse fibroblast lines, here we show that Pten deficiency led to increased cell motility. Reintroducing the wild-type Pten, but not the catalytically inactive Pten C124S or lipid-phosphatase-deficient Pten G129E mutant, reduced the enhanced cell motility of Pten-deficient cells. Moreover, phosphorylation of the focal adhesion kinase p125(FAK) was not changed in Pten(-/-) cells. Instead, significant increases in the endogenous activities of Rac1 and Cdc42, two small GTPases involved in regulating the actin cytoskeleton [7], were observed in Pten(-/-) cells. Overexpression of dominant-negative mutant forms of Rac1 and Cdc42 reversed the cell migration phenotype of Pten(-/-) cells. Thus, our studies suggest that Pten negatively controls cell motility through its lipid phosphatase activity by down-regulating Rac1 and Cdc42.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Gene Deletion
  • Genes, Tumor Suppressor*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase
  • Phosphoric Monoester Hydrolases / genetics*
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins*
  • cdc42 GTP-Binding Protein / metabolism*
  • rac1 GTP-Binding Protein / metabolism*


  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Phosphoric Monoester Hydrolases
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase
  • cdc42 GTP-Binding Protein
  • rac1 GTP-Binding Protein