Nuclear localization of PTEN by a Ran-dependent mechanism enhances apoptosis: Involvement of an N-terminal nuclear localization domain and multiple nuclear exclusion motifs

Mol Biol Cell. 2006 Sep;17(9):4002-13. doi: 10.1091/mbc.e06-05-0380. Epub 2006 Jun 28.


The targeting of the tumor suppressor PTEN protein to distinct subcellular compartments is a major regulatory mechanism of PTEN function, by controlling its access to substrates and effector proteins. Here, we investigated the molecular basis and functional consequences of PTEN nuclear/cytoplasmic distribution. PTEN accumulated in the nucleus of cells treated with apoptotic stimuli. Nuclear accumulation of PTEN was enhanced by mutations targeting motifs in distinct PTEN domains, and it was dependent on an N-terminal nuclear localization domain. Coexpression of a dominant negative Ran GTPase protein blocked PTEN accumulation in the nucleus, which was also affected by coexpression of importin alpha proteins. The lipid- and protein-phosphatase activity of PTEN differentially modulated PTEN nuclear accumulation. Furthermore, catalytically active nuclear PTEN enhanced cell apoptotic responses. Our findings indicate that multiple nuclear exclusion motifs and a nuclear localization domain control PTEN nuclear localization by a Ran-dependent mechanism and suggest a proapoptotic role for PTEN in the cell nucleus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3T3 Cells
  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • COS Cells
  • Catalysis
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nuclear Localization Signals / metabolism*
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase / chemistry*
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase / metabolism*
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Protein Transport
  • Rats
  • Sequence Deletion
  • ran GTP-Binding Protein / metabolism*


  • Nuclear Localization Signals
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase
  • PTEN protein, human
  • ran GTP-Binding Protein