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Cancer Res. 2004 Feb 1;64(3):812-6.

Phosphorylation of tuberin as a novel mechanism for somatic inactivation of the tuberous sclerosis complex proteins in brain lesions.

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Molecular Neurogenetics Unit, Molecular Neuro-Oncology, and Department of Neurology, Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown, Massachusetts, USA.


Tuberous sclerosis complex is caused by mutations in tumor suppressor genes TSC1 or TSC2 and is characterized by the presence of hamartomas in many organs. Although tuberous sclerosis complex is a tumor suppressor gene syndrome with classic "second hits" detectable in renal tumors, conventional genetic analysis has not revealed somatic inactivation of the second allele in the majority of human brain lesions. We demonstrate a novel mechanism of post-translational inactivation of the TSC2 protein, tuberin, by physiologically inappropriate phosphorylation, which is specific to tuberous sclerosis complex-associated brain lesions. Additional analysis shows that tissue specificity is due to abnormal activation of the Akt and mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways in brain but not in renal tumors. These results have widespread implications for understanding the tissue specificity of tumor suppressor gene phenotypes.

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