Phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) is a critical negative regulator of the phosphoinositide-3 kinase pathway, members of which play integral roles in natural killer (NK) cell development and function. However, the functions of PTEN in NK cell biology remain unknown. Here, we used an NK cell-specific PTEN-deletion mouse model to define the ramifications of intrinsic NK cell PTEN loss in vivo. In these mice, there was a significant defect in NK cell numbers in the bone marrow and peripheral organs despite increased proliferation and intact peripheral NK cell maturation. Unexpectedly, we observed a significant expansion of peripheral blood NK cells and the premature egress of NK cells from the bone marrow. The altered trafficking of NK cells from peripheral organs into the blood was due to selective hyperresponsiveness to the blood localizing chemokine S1P. To address the importance of this trafficking defect to NK cell immune responses, we investigated the ability of PTEN-deficient NK cells to traffic to a site of tumor challenge. PTEN-deficient NK cells were defective at migrating to distal tumor sites but were more effective at clearing tumors actively introduced into the peripheral blood. Collectively, these data identify PTEN as an essential regulator of NK cell localization in vivo during both homeostasis and malignancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E700-E709
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number7
StatePublished - Feb 17 2015


  • Cell migration
  • Innate immunity
  • Natural killer cell
  • PTEN
  • Phosphatase


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