Even though phosphorylation of phosphatidylinositols by phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) has an important and pervasive role in the nervous system, there is little known about the phosphatases that reverse this reaction. Such a phosphatase, phosphatase and tensin homologue deleted on chromosome 10 (PTEN), was cloned as a tumor suppressor for gliomas. PTEN is expressed in most, if not all, neurons and is localized in the nucleus and cytoplasm. Recently, a series of papers using PTEN conditional knockouts has greatly extended our knowledge of PTEN's role during development. Loss of PTEN results in disorganization of the brain, probably due to a flaw in cell migration. In addition, there is a gradual increase in the size of neuronal soma, mimicking Lhermitte-Duclos disease. Recent experiments in our laboratory with adult PTEN +/- mice demonstrate that PTEN regulates migration of precursor cells in the subventricular zone to the olfactory bulb. We also found that PTEN haploinsufficiency can protect precursor cells from apoptosis in response to oxidative stress. Collectively, these studies demonstrate that PTEN does much more than suppressing tumors. It is a master regulator in developing and adult brain.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.