Send to

Choose Destination
Cancer Invest. 2004;22(4):588-603.

The tuberous sclerosis complex genes in tumor development.

Author information

Department of Surgery, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA.


The study of hereditary tumor syndromes has laid a solid foundation toward understanding the genetic basis of cancer. One of the latest examples comes from the study of tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC). As a member of the phakomatoses, TSC is characterized by the appearance of benign tumors, most notably in the central nervous system, kidney, heart, lung, and skin. While classically described as "hamartomas," the pathology of the lesions has features suggestive of abnormal cellular proliferation, size, differentiation, and migration. Occasionally, tumors progress to become malignant (i.e., renal cell carcinoma). The genetic basis of this disease has been attributed to mutations in one of two unlinked genes, TSC1 and TSC2. Cells undergo bi-allelic inactivation of either gene to give rise to tumors in a classic tumor suppressor "two-hit" paradigm. The functions of the TSC1 and TSC2 gene products, hamartin and tuberin, respectively, have remained ill defined until recently. Genetic, biochemical, and biologic analyses have highlighted their role as negative regulators of the mTOR signaling pathway. Tuberin, serving as a substrate of AKT and AMPK, mediates mTOR activity by coordinating inputs from growth factors and energy availability in the control of cell growth, proliferation, and survival. Emerging evidence also suggests that the TSC 1/2 complex may play a role in modulating the activity of beta-catenin and TGFbeta. These findings provide novel functional links between the TSC genes and other tumor suppressors responsible for Cowden's disease (PTEN), Peutz-Jeghers syndrome (LKB1), and familial polyposis (APC). Common sporadic cancers such as prostate, lung, colon, endometrium, and breast have ties to these genes, highlighting the potential role of the TSC proteins in human cancers. Rapamycin, a specific mTOR inhibitor, has potent antitumoral activities in preclinical models of TSC and is currently undergoing phase I/II clinical studies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Taylor & Francis
Loading ...
Support Center