A Saturation Mutagenesis Approach to Understanding PTEN Lipid Phosphatase Activity and Genotype-Phenotype Relationships

Taylor L. Mighell, Sara Evans-Dutson, Brian J. O'Roak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


Phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) is a tumor suppressor frequently mutated in diverse cancers. Germline PTEN mutations are also associated with a range of clinical outcomes, including PTEN hamartoma tumor syndrome (PHTS) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). To empower new insights into PTEN function and clinically relevant genotype-phenotype relationships, we systematically evaluated the effect of PTEN mutations on lipid phosphatase activity in vivo. Using a massively parallel approach that leverages an artificial humanized yeast model, we derived high-confidence estimates of functional impact for 7,244 single amino acid PTEN variants (86% of possible). We identified 2,273 mutations with reduced cellular lipid phosphatase activity, which includes 1,789 missense mutations. These data recapitulated known functional findings but also uncovered new insights into PTEN protein structure, biochemistry, and mutation tolerance. Several residues in the catalytic pocket showed surprising mutational tolerance. We identified that the solvent exposure of wild-type residues is a critical determinant of mutational tolerance. Further, we created a comprehensive functional map by leveraging correlations between amino acid substitutions to impute functional scores for all variants, including those not present in the assay. Variant functional scores can reliably discriminate likely pathogenic from benign alleles. Further, 32% of ClinVar unclassified missense variants are phosphatase deficient in our assay, supporting their reclassification. ASD-associated mutations generally had less severe fitness scores relative to PHTS-associated mutations (p = 7.16 × 10−5) and a higher fraction of hypomorphic mutations, arguing for continued genotype-phenotype studies in larger clinical datasets that can further leverage these rich functional data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)943-955
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Genetics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 3 2018


  • Cowden syndrome
  • PTEN
  • PTEN hamartoma tumor syndrome
  • autism spectrum disorder
  • cancer
  • deep mutation scanning
  • genotype-phenotype
  • protein function
  • tumor suppressor
  • variants of uncertain significance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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