The role of genetic abnormalities of PTEN and the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase pathway in breast and ovarian tumorigenesis, prognosis, and therapy

Semin Oncol. 2001 Oct;28(5 Suppl 16):125-41. doi: 10.1016/s0093-7754(01)90290-8.


Breast and ovarian cancers exhibit similar epidemiologic, genotypic, and phenotypic characteristics. Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) and the PTEN tumor suppressor gene product phosphorylate and dephosphorylate the same 3' site in the inositol ring of membrane phosphatidylinositols. Germ-line mutations in the PTEN tumor suppressor gene are causative of Cowden's breast cancer predisposition syndrome, and PTEN is frequently mutated in sporadic breast cancers. In contrast, amplification of multiple components of the PI3K pathway is a hallmark of serous epithelial ovarian cancers. The resultant activation of the PI3K pathway in both breast and ovarian cancers contributes to cell-cycle progression, decreased apoptosis, and increased metastatic capabilities. Strikingly, both ovarian and breast cancer cells are selectively sensitive to pharmacologic and genetic manipulation of the PI3K pathway, making molecular therapeutics targeting this pathway particularly attractive approaches for these cancers.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Cell Cycle
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Genes, Tumor Suppressor*
  • Humans
  • Integrins / metabolism
  • Mutation
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / therapy
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / physiology*
  • Phosphoinositide-3 Kinase Inhibitors
  • Phosphoric Monoester Hydrolases / genetics*
  • Prognosis
  • Receptors, Growth Factor / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / genetics*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Integrins
  • Phosphoinositide-3 Kinase Inhibitors
  • Receptors, Growth Factor
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Phosphoric Monoester Hydrolases
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase
  • PTEN protein, human