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Apoptosis. 2006 Feb;11(2):197-207.

PTEN: a crucial mediator of mitochondria-dependent apoptosis.

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  • 1Institut für Pharmakologie und Toxikologie, Philipps-Universität Marburg, D-35032, Marburg, Germany.


The highly frequent mutation of phosphatase and tensin homologue deleted on chromosome 10 (PTEN) in various cancers has attracted much attention to study its role in tumorigenesis. As an important tumor suppressor, the pro-apoptotic function of PTEN has been linked to its capacity antagonizing the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway. However, less data are available concerning its role in neurodegeneration in which apoptotic processes are also involved. In the present study, we attempted to study the role and the underlying mechanism of PTEN in neuronal apoptosis. Using primary rat hippocampal cultures, staurosporine (STS, 100 nM) induced a time-dependent apoptosis, accompanied by a marked production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), release of cytochrome c and activation of caspase 9 and 3. However, the expression of PTEN, and the levels of phospho-PTEN and phospho-Akt were not changed at all time points tested (0.5-24 h) after STS stimulation, suggesting that the protein level as well as the phosphorylation status of PTEN were not related to the procession of apoptosis. Interestingly, immunostaining revealed a punctate intracellular distribution of PTEN from 2 to 8 h after adding STS. Double labeling and Western blotting of mitochondrial fraction demonstrated a mitochondrial location and accumulation of PTEN, respectively, after challenging with STS. Furthermore, we provide evidence for the first time that PTEN was associated with Bax in the absence and the presence of STS. Of note, the STS-induced marked increase in the cellular ROS level, release of cytochrome c and activation of caspase 3 were inhibited in cultured hippocampal cells when PTEN was knocked down by a specific antisense. Moreover, knockdown of PTEN significantly protected hippocampal cells from apoptotic damage. These findings demonstrated that PTEN is a crucial mediator of mitochondria-dependent apoptosis, and thus could become a molecular target for interfering with neurodegenerative diseases.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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