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Mol Cell Biol. 2009 Mar;29(5):1222-34. doi: 10.1128/MCB.01660-08. Epub 2008 Dec 22.

PTEN loss promotes mitochondrially dependent type II Fas-induced apoptosis via PEA-15.

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The Prostate Centre at Vancouver General Hospital, University of British Columbia, 2660 Oak Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6H 3Z6.


Two distinct biochemical signals are delivered by the CD95/Fas death receptor. The molecular basis for the differential mitochondrially independent (type I) and mitochondrially dependent (type II) Fas apoptosis pathways is unknown. By analyzing 24 Fas-sensitive tumor lines, we now demonstrate that expression/activity of the PTEN tumor suppressor strongly correlates with the distinct Fas signals. PTEN loss-of-function and gain-of-function studies demonstrate the ability to interconvert between type I and type II Fas pathways. Importantly, from analyses of Bcl-2 transgenic Pten(+/-) mice, Pten haploinsufficiency converts Fas-induced apoptosis from a Bcl-2-independent to a Bcl-2-sensitive response in primary thymocytes and activated T lymphocytes. We further show that PTEN influences Fas signaling, at least in part, by regulating PEA-15 phosphorylation and activity that, in turn, regulate the ability of Bcl-2 to suppress Fas-induced apoptosis. Thus, PTEN is a key molecular rheostat that determines whether a cell dies by a mitochondrially independent type I versus a mitochondrially dependent type II apoptotic pathway upon Fas stimulation.

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