Akt regulates nuclear/cytoplasmic localization of tuberin

Oncogene. 2007 Jan 25;26(4):521-31. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1209812. Epub 2006 Jul 24.


The autosomal dominantly inherited disease tuberous sclerosis (TSC) affects approximately 1 in 6000 individuals and is characterized by the development of tumors, named hamartomas, in different organs. TSC1, encoding hamartin, and TSC2, encoding tuberin are tumor suppressor genes responsible for TSC. Hamartin and tuberin form a complex, of which tuberin is assumed to be the functional component. The TSC proteins have been implicated in the control of cell cycle by activating the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p27 and in cell size regulation by inhibiting the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR)/p70S6K cascade. Phosphorylation of S939 and T1462 by Akt downregulates tuberin's potential to inhibit mTOR/p70S6K. Here, we show that this tuberin phosphorylation by Akt does not affect tuberin-mediated control of p27 protein amounts. This demonstrates that regulating p27 protein amounts and mTOR/p70S6K are separable functions of tuberin. Furthermore, we found that phosphorylation by Akt triggers upregulation of cytoplasmic and downregulation of nuclear tuberin. In cycling cells with high Akt activity, tuberin is predominantly localized to the cytoplasm. In arrested G0 cells with downregulated Akt activity, a significant proportion of tuberin is localized to the nucleus. Upon re-entry into the normal ongoing cell cycle, nuclear localization of tuberin is downregulated parallel to the activation of Akt. Recently, the mTOR/p70S6K cascade has been demonstrated to exist in both the cytoplasm and nucleus. We here also found that tuberin harbors the potential to regulate p70S6K activity in both the cytoplasm and nucleus. This description of functional tuberin in the cytoplasm and the nucleus together with our observation of Akt-controlled and cell cycle-regulated tuberin localization are of particular interest for a further understanding of tuberin's function as a gate keeper of the G0 cell status as well as of Akt's activity to control cell proliferation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p27 / metabolism
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • NIH 3T3 Cells
  • Oncogene Protein v-akt / physiology*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Phosphotransferases / metabolism
  • Protein Transport
  • Ribosomal Protein S6 Kinases, 70-kDa / metabolism
  • Tuberous Sclerosis Complex 2 Protein
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / metabolism*


  • TSC2 protein, human
  • Tsc2 protein, mouse
  • Tuberous Sclerosis Complex 2 Protein
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p27
  • Phosphotransferases
  • Oncogene Protein v-akt
  • Ribosomal Protein S6 Kinases, 70-kDa