Feeding Hungry T Cells

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Science  05 Apr 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6128, pp. 10
DOI: 10.1126/science.340.6128.10-b

In order to mount productive responses against pathogens, T cells need to be fed. That is, the metabolic demands of T cell increase upon activation and as a result, T cells need to take up more amino acids. How this process is regulated, however, is not well understood. Sinclair et al. investigate and find that the System L amino-acid transporter, Slc7a5, which mediates the uptake of large neutral amino acids (LNAAs) such as leucine, was required for T cell activation in mice. In response to activation, T cells increased their expression of Slc7a5 and their uptake of LNAAs in a Slc7a5-dependent manner. T cells from mice with a T cell–specific deletion of Slc7a5 did not proliferate well or acquire effector cell functions in response to activating stimuli. This was correlated with a failure to activate the serine-threonine kinase complex mTORC1 and to induce protein expression of the transcription factor c-Myc, both important components required to mediate the energetic demands of activated T cells.

Nat. Immunol. 14, 10.1038/ni.2556 (2013).

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