The Journal of clinical investigation

mTORC1 and mTORC2 selectively regulate CD8⁺ T cell differentiation.

PMID 25893604


Activation of mTOR-dependent pathways regulates the specification and differentiation of CD4+ T effector cell subsets. Herein, we show that mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) and mTORC2 have distinct roles in the generation of CD8+ T cell effector and memory populations. Evaluation of mice with a T cell-specific deletion of the gene encoding the negative regulator of mTORC1, tuberous sclerosis complex 2 (TSC2), resulted in the generation of highly glycolytic and potent effector CD8+ T cells; however, due to constitutive mTORC1 activation, these cells retained a terminally differentiated effector phenotype and were incapable of transitioning into a memory state. In contrast, CD8+ T cells deficient in mTORC1 activity due to loss of RAS homolog enriched in brain (RHEB) failed to differentiate into effector cells but retained memory characteristics, such as surface marker expression, a lower metabolic rate, and increased longevity. However, these RHEB-deficient memory-like T cells failed to generate recall responses as the result of metabolic defects. While mTORC1 influenced CD8+ T cell effector responses, mTORC2 activity regulated CD8+ T cell memory. mTORC2 inhibition resulted in metabolic reprogramming, which enhanced the generation of CD8+ memory cells. Overall, these results define specific roles for mTORC1 and mTORC2 that link metabolism and CD8+ T cell effector and memory generation and suggest that these functions have the potential to be targeted for enhancing vaccine efficacy and antitumor immunity.