Power of PTEN/AKT: Molecular switch between tumor suppressors and oncogenes

Yingqiu Xie, Sanzhar Naizabekov, Zhanlin Chen, Tursonjan Tokay

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


An increasing amount of evidence has shown that tumor suppressors can become oncogenes, or vice versa, but the mechanism behind this is unclear. Recent findings have suggested that phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) is one of the powerful switches for the conversion between tumor suppressors and oncogenes. PTEN regulates a number of cellular processes, including cell death and proliferation, through the phosphoinositide 3-kinase/protein kinase B/mammalian target of rapamycin (PI3K/AKT/mTOR) pathway. Furthermore, a number of studies have suggested that PTEN deletions may alter various functions of certain tumor suppressor and oncogenic proteins. The aim of the present review was to analyze specific cases driven by PTEN loss/AKT activation, including aberrant signaling pathways and novel drug targets for clinical application in personalized medicine. The findings illustrate how PTEN loss and/or AKT activation switches MDM2-dependent p53 downregulation, and induces conversion between oncogene and tumor suppressor in enhancer of zeste homolog 2, BTB domain-containing 7A, alternative reading frame 2, p27 and breast cancer 1, early onset, through multiple mechanisms. This review highlights the genetic basis of complex drug targets and provides insights into the rationale of precision cancer therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-378
Number of pages4
JournalOncology Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016


  • Molecular switch
  • Oncogene
  • PTEN
  • Tumor suppressor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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