PTEN is a critical tumor suppressor whose dysregulation leads to metabolic disease and cancer. How these diseases are linked at a molecular level is poorly understood. Maf1 is a novel PTEN target that connects PTEN's ability to repress intracellular lipid accumulation with its tumor suppressor function. Maf1 represses the expression of rRNAs and tRNAs to restrain biosynthetic capacity and oncogenic transformation. Recent studies demonstrate that Maf1 also controls intracellular lipid accumulation. In animal models, dysregulation of RNA polymerase I- and III-dependent transcription, and subsequent upregulation of rRNAs and tRNAs, leads to altered lipid metabolism and storage. Together these results identify unexpected connections between RNA and lipid metabolism that may help explain the strong epidemiological association between obesity and cancer.
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