Sustaining proliferative signaling
PTEN and melanomagenesis.
The PI3K-PTEN-AKT signaling pathway is involved in various cellular activities, including proliferation, migration, cell growth, cell survival and differentiation during adult homeostasis as well as in tumorigenesis. It has been suggested that the constitutive activation of PI3K/AKT signaling with concurrent loss of function of the tumor suppressor molecule PTEN contributes to cancer formation. Members of the PI3K-PTEN-AKT pathway, including these proteins and mTOR, are altered in melanoma tumors and cell lines. A hallmark of activation of the pathway is the loss of function of PTEN. Indeed, loss of heterozygosity of PTEN has been observed in approximately 30% of human melanomas, implicating this signaling pathway in this cancer. PI3K signaling activation, via loss of PTEN function, can inhibit proapoptotic genes such as the FoxO family of transcription factors, while inducing cell growth- and cell survival-related elements such as p70S6K and AKT. Determining how the PI3K-PTEN-AKT signaling pathway, alone or in cooperation with other pathways, orchestrates the induction of target genes involved in a diverse range of activities is a major challenge in research into melanoma initiation and progression. Moreover, the acquisition of basic knowledge will help patient management with appropriate therapies that are already, or will shortly be, on the market.