Fueling Function Over Expansion in T Cells

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Science  05 Jul 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6141, pp. 37-38
DOI: 10.1126/science.1242100

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Vertebrates generate millions of unique T cell receptors during T cell development, ensuring that the immune system can recognize any number of potential pathogens. A compromise for this extraordinary molecular diversity is that the T cell population of a given individual contains only a handful of cells that can recognize any particular foreign invader. To solve this problem, T cells can undergo extraordinary proliferation in response to infection (1). Upon activation, they adopt specialized metabolic programs, such as aerobic glycolysis [the Warburg effect (25)], which has long been thought to meet the biosynthetic and bioenergetic requirements associated with rapid expansion (2). But a recent study by Chang et al. (6) raises questions about this model and suggests instead that aerobic glycolysis is necessary for T cell effector function rather than proliferation.