Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) plays a crucial role in the control of T cell fate determination; however, the precise regulatory mechanism of the mTOR pathway is not fully understood. We found that T cell–specific deletion of the gene encoding tuberous sclerosis 1 (TSC1), an upstream negative regulator of mTOR, resulted in augmented Th1 and Th17 differentiation and led to severe intestinal inflammation in a colitis model. Conditional Tsc1 deletion in Tregs impaired their suppressive activity and expression of the Treg marker Foxp3 and resulted in increased IL-17 production under inflammatory conditions. A fate-mapping study revealed that Tsc1-null Tregs that lost Foxp3 expression gained a stronger effector-like phenotype compared with Tsc1–/– Foxp3+ Tregs. Elevated IL-17 production in Tsc1–/– Treg cells was reversed by in vivo knockdown of the mTOR target S6K1. Moreover, IL-17 production was enhanced by Treg-specific double deletion of Tsc1 and Foxo3a. Collectively, these studies suggest that TSC1 acts as an important checkpoint for maintaining immune homeostasis by regulating cell fate determination.
Yoon Park, Hyung-Seung Jin, Justine Lopez, Chris Elly, Gisen Kim, Masako Murai, Mitchell Kronenberg, Yun-Cai Liu
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