Expanding the role of metabolism in T cells

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Science  29 May 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6238, pp. 976-977
DOI: 10.1126/science.aac4997

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Understanding the mechanistic processes that govern T cell responses is crucial to enhancing immunotherapies against human disease. Naïve CD8 T cells extensively proliferate in response to antigen, creating a large pool of effector T cells that clear tumors or infected cells. During this process, T cells metabolically reprogram to meet energy demands and supply biosynthetic precursors necessary for proliferation (1). On page 995 of this issue, Okoye et al. (2) identify lymphocyte expansion molecule (LEM), a protein that targets T cell metabolism and enhances proliferation. LEM improved CD8 T cell–mediated viral and tumor clearance and boosted memory T cell numbers. These findings suggest that modulating T cell metabolism by targeting LEM could alter the course of cancer, autoimmunity, or infection.