Assessment of PTEN tumor suppressor activity in nonmammalian models: the year of the yeast

Oncogene. 2008 Sep 18;27(41):5431-42. doi: 10.1038/onc.2008.240.


Model organisms have emerged as suitable and reliable biological tools to study the properties of proteins whose function is altered in human disease. In the case of the PI3K and PTEN human cancer-related proteins, several vertebrate and invertebrate models, including mouse, fly, worm and amoeba, have been exploited to obtain relevant functional information that has been conserved from these organisms to humans along evolution. The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is an eukaryotic unicellular organism that lacks a canonical mammalian-like PI3K/PTEN pathway and PIP3 as a physiological second messenger, PIP2 being essential for its life. The mammalian PI3K/PTEN pathway can be reconstituted in S. cerevisiae, generating growth alteration phenotypes that can be easily monitored to perform in vivo functional analysis of the molecular constituents of this pathway. Here, we review the current nonmammalian model systems to study PTEN function, summarize our knowledge of PTEN orthologs in yeast species and propose the yeast S. cerevisiae as a sensitive biological sensor of PI3K oncogenicity and PTEN tumor suppressor activity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Eukaryotic Cells / metabolism
  • Eukaryotic Cells / physiology
  • Genes, Tumor Suppressor / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase / genetics
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase / metabolism
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase / physiology*
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / physiology
  • Phylogeny
  • Sequence Homology
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Yeasts / genetics*
  • Yeasts / physiology


  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase