Resisting cell death
Sustaining proliferative signaling
PTEN in liver diseases and cancer.
The phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN)/Akt axis is a key signal transduction node that regulates crucial cellular functions, including insulin and other growth factors signaling, lipid and glucose metabolism, as well as cell survival and apoptosis. In this pathway, PTEN acts as a phosphoinositide phosphatase, which terminates PI3K-propagated signaling by dephosphorylating PtdIns(3,4)P(2) and PtdIns(3,4,5)P(3). However, the role of PTEN does not appear to be restricted only to PI3K signaling antagonism, and new functions have been recently discovered for this protein. In addition to the well-established role of PTEN as a tumor suppressor, increasing evidence now suggests that a dysregulated PTEN expression and/or activity is also linked to the development of several hepatic pathologies. Dysregulated PTEN expression/activity is observed with obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, hepatitis B virus/hepatitis C virus infections, and abusive alcohol consumption, whereas mutations/deletions have also been associated with the occurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma. Thus, it appears that alterations of PTEN expression and activity in hepatocytes are common and recurrent molecular events associated with liver disorders of various etiologies. These recent findings suggest that PTEN might represent a potential common therapeutic target for a number of liver pathologies.