Infection and immunity

Role of tumor suppressor TSC1 in regulating antigen-specific primary and memory CD8 T cell responses to bacterial infection.

PMID 24818661


The serine/threonine kinase mammalian/mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) integrates various environmental cues such as the presence of antigen, inflammation, and nutrients to regulate T cell growth, metabolism, and function. The tuberous sclerosis 1 (TSC1)/TSC2 complex negatively regulates the activity of an mTOR-containing multiprotein complex called mTOR complex 1. Recent studies have revealed an essential cell-intrinsic role for TSC1 in T cell survival, quiescence, and mitochondrial homeostasis. Given the emerging role of mTOR activity in the regulation of the quantity and quality of CD8 T cell responses, in this study, we examine the role of its suppressor, TSC1, in the regulation of antigen-specific primary and memory CD8 T cell responses to bacterial infection. Using an established model system of transgenic CD8 cell adoptive transfer and challenge with Listeria monocytogenes expressing a cognate antigen, we found that TSC1 deficiency impairs antigen-specific CD8 T cell responses, resulting in weak expansion, exaggerated contraction, and poor memory generation. Poor expansion of TSC1-deficient cells was associated with defects in survival and proliferation in vivo, while enhanced contraction was correlated with an increased ratio of short-lived effectors to memory precursors in the effector cell population. This perturbation of effector-memory differentiation was concomitant with decreased expression of eomesodermin among activated TSC1 knockout cells. Upon competitive adoptive transfer with wild-type counterparts and antigen rechallenge, TSC1-deficient memory cells showed moderate defects in expansion but not cytokine production. Taken together, these findings provide direct evidence of a CD8 T cell-intrinsic role for TSC1 in the regulation of antigen-specific primary and memory responses.