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Cancer Res. 2003 Jun 1;63(11):2881-90.

Loss of PTEN promotes tumor development in malignant melanoma.

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Department of Pharmacology, The Pennsylvania State College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania 17033, USA.


Loss of tumor suppressor genes on chromosome 10 plays an important role in the development of 30-60% of melanomas; however, the identity of these genes and the mechanisms by which loss of these genes leads to tumor formation remain uncertain. The phosphatase and tensin homologue deleted from chromosome 10 (PTEN) is one of the genes on chromosome 10 whose of which the loss or inactivation may play an important role in melanoma tumorigenesis, but functional studies directly demonstrating PTEN involvement in melanomas are necessary to confirm this role. To determine the biological importance of PTEN loss in melanomas, we established a novel model in which an intact chromosome 10 was transferred into melanoma cells lacking PTEN protein to express the protein at normal physiological levels and to measure the consequent effects on melanoma tumorigenesis. PTEN expression in these cells retarded tumor development in mice unless, by analogy with loss of heterozygosity, the PTEN gene was deleted or inactivated during tumor formation. Mechanistically, PTEN loss led to the activation of Akt, which consequently down-regulated the apoptotic pathway of melanoma cells. In contrast, expression of PTEN attenuated Akt activation, thereby increasing sensitivity to apoptotic stimuli in cell culture and in vivo in animal models. This model demonstrated that PTEN loss is critical for melanoma tumorigenesis and allowed a dissection of the underlying mechanism by which PTEN loss facilitated melanoma tumor development. In summary, loss of PTEN reduces apoptosis and promotes cell survival, thereby favoring melanoma tumor formation. Thus, these observations provide an etiological basis for PTEN loss during the genesis of sporadic melanomas.

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