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PTEN: A master regulator of neuronal structure, function, and plasticity.

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PTEN (phosphatase and tensin homolog on chromosome ten) is a dual protein/lipid phosphatase that dephosphorylates PIP3, thereby inhibiting the AKT/mTOR pathway. This inhibition ultimately decreases protein translation, cell proliferation and cell growth. In the central nervous system, inhibition of PTEN leads to increased stem cell proliferation, somatic, dendritic and axonal growth, accelerated spine maturation, diminished synaptic plasticity, and altered intrinsic excitability. In agreement with these findings, patients carrying single-copy inactivating mutations of PTEN suffer from autism, macrocephaly, mental retardation, and epilepsy.(1) (-) (9) Understanding the mechanisms through which PTEN modulates the structure, function, and plasticity of cortical networks is a major focus of study. Preventing and reversing the changes induced by loss of Pten in model animals will pave the way for treatments in humans.

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