Many hundreds of research papers over the last ten years have established the significance of PTEN's lipid phosphatase activity in mediating many of its effects on specific cellular processes in many different cell types, including cell growth, proliferation, survival, and migration (Backman et al., 2002; Iijima et al., 2002; Leslie and Downes, 2002; Salmena et al., 2008). In some cases, detailed signalling mechanisms have been identified by which these PtdInsP-dependent effects are manifest (Kolsch et al., 2008; Manning and Cantley, 2007; Tee and Blenis, 2005). Further, in some settings, in vivo data from, for example genetic deletion of PTEN, relates closely with independent manipulation of the PI3K/Akt signalling pathway (Bayascas et al., 2005; Chen et al., 2006; Crackower et al., 2002; Ma et al., 2005). Together these studies indicate that the dominant effects of PTEN function are mediated through its regulation of PtdInsP-dependent signalling, but that its protein phosphatase activity also contributes in some settings. These conclusions are of great importance given the intense efforts underway to develop PI3K (EC 188.8.131.52) inhibitors as cancer therapeutics. The experiments reviewed here have firmly established that the protein phosphatase activity of PTEN plays a role in the regulation of cellular processes including migration. On the other hand, it has not been established beyond doubt that PTEN acts on substrates other than itself; no such substrates have been confidently identified and effector mechanisms for PTEN's protein phosphatase activity are currently unclear. The goal for future research must be firstly to understand the signalling mechanisms by which PTEN protein phosphatase activity acts: whether this is through identifying substrates, or working out how autodephosphorylation mediates its effects. Secondly, and critically, the significance of PTEN's protein phosphatase activity must be established in vivo. This can be achieved through relating the phenotypes intervening with both PTEN and with protein phosphatase effector pathways when they are identified, and through the generation of mouse models expressing substrate selective PTEN mutants. We should then be able to answer the important question of whether PTEN's protein phosphatase activity contributes to tumour suppression.
Leslie, N. R., Maccario, H., Spinelli, L., & Davidson, L. (2009). The significance of PTEN's protein phosphatase activity. Advances in Enzyme Regulation, 49(1), 190-196. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.advenzreg.2008.12.002