Loss of function of the PTEN tumour suppressor, resulting in dysregulated activation of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) signalling network, is recognized as one of the most common driving events in prostate cancer development. The observed mechanisms of PTEN loss are diverse, but both homozygous and heterozygous genomic deletions including PTEN are frequent, and often accompanied by loss of detectable protein as assessed by immunohistochemistry (IHC). The occurrence of PTEN loss is highest in aggressive metastatic disease and this has driven the development of PTEN as a prognostic biomarker, either alone or in combination with other factors, to distinguish indolent tumours from those likely to progress. Here, we discuss these factors and the consequences of PTEN loss, in the context of its role as a lipid phosphatase, as well as current efforts to use available inhibitors of specific components of the PI3K/PTEN/TOR signalling network in prostate cancer treatment.

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