T Cell Metabolism

Flexibility lets activated T cells thrive

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Science  20 Feb 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6224, pp. 837
DOI: 10.1126/science.347.6224.837-b

For T cells, fighting infections is demanding work. They must proliferate many times over and quickly produce a myriad of antimicrobial factors. T cells do this by switching from mitochondrial to glycolytic metabolism, but what happens when nutrients are scarce, such as in infected tissues or tumors? Blagih et al. examined this question by starving mouse T cells of glucose. They found that T cells are highly adaptable—they pulled back on protein translation, used glutamine as an energy source, and relied more on mitochondrial metabolism. The enzyme AMPK, an evolutionarily conserved energy sensor, facilitated these changes.

Immunity 42, 41 (2015).

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