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The lipid and protein phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) controls the differentiation and activation of multiple immune cells. PTEN acts downstream from T- and B-cell receptors, costimulatory molecules, cytokine receptors, integrins, and also growth factor receptors. Loss of PTEN activity in human and mice is associated with cellular and humoral immune dysfunction, lymphoid hyperplasia, and autoimmunity. Although most patients with PTEN hamartoma tumor syndrome (PHTS) have no immunological symptoms, a subclinical immune dysfunction is present in many, and clinical immunodeficiency in few. Comparison of the immune phenotype caused by PTEN haploinsufficiency in PHTS, phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) gain-of-function in activated PI3K syndrome, and mice with conditional biallelic Pten deletion suggests a threshold model in which coordinated activity of several phosphatases control the PI3K signaling in a cell-type-specific manner. Emerging evidence highlights the role of PTEN in polygenic autoimmune disorders, infection, and the immunological response to cancer. Targeting the PI3K axis is an emerging therapeutic avenue.

Original publication




Journal article


Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in medicine

Publication Date





Department of Surgery and Cancer, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ, United Kingdom.


Animals, Humans, Mice, Hamartoma Syndrome, Multiple, Signal Transduction, PTEN Phosphohydrolase, Immunity, Innate, Adaptive Immunity, Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases