The role of WNT and mTOR in human memory T cell formation


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PhD thesis: a PhD thesis.
The role of WNT and mTOR in human memory T cell formation
Scholz G. A.
Romero P.
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Université de Lausanne, Faculté de biologie et médecine
Faculté de biologie et de médecineUniversité de LausanneCH-1015 LausanneSUISSE
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Cancer is one of the world's leading causes of death with a rising trend in incidence. These epidemiologic observations underline the need for novel treatment strategies. In this regard, a promising approach takes advantage of the adaptive effector mechanisms of the immune system, using T lymphocytes to specifically target and destroy tumour cells. However, whereas current approaches mainly depend on short-lived, terminally differentiated effector T cells, increasing evidence suggests that long lasting and maximum efficient immune responses are mediated by low differentiated memory T cells. These memory T cells should display characteristics of stem cells, such as longevity, self-renewal capacity and the ability to continuously give rise to further differentiated effectors. These stem celllike memory T (TSCM) cells are thought to be of key therapeutic value as they might not only attack differentiated tumour cells, but also eradicate the root cause of cancer, the cancer stem cells themselves. Thus, efforts are made to characterize TSCM cells and to identify the signalling pathways which mediate their induction. Recently, a human TSCM cell subset was described and the activation of the Wnt-ß-catenin signalling pathway by the drug TWS119 during naive CD8+ T (TN) cell priming was suggested to mediate their induction. However, a precise deciphering of the signalling pathways leading to TSCM cell induction and an in-depth characterization of in vitro induced and in vivo occurring TSCM cells remain to be performed.
Here, evidence is presented that the induction of human and mouse CD8+ and CD4+ TSCM cells may be triggered by inhibition of mechanistic/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) complex 1 with simultaneously active mTOR complex 2. This molecular mechanism arrests a fraction of activated TN cells in a stem cell-like differentiation state independently of the Wnt-ß-catenin signalling pathway. Of note, TWS119 was found to also inhibit mTORCl, thereby mediating the induction of TSCM cells. Suggesting an immunostimulatory effect, the acquired data broaden the therapeutic range of mTORCl inhibitors like rapamycin, which are, at present, exclusively used due to their immunosuppressive function. Furthermore, by performing broad metabolic analyses, a well-orchestrated interplay between intracellular signalling pathways and the T cells' metabolic programmes could be identified as important regulator of the T cells' differentiation fate. Moreover, in vitro induced CD4+ TSCM cells possess superior functional capacities and share fate-determining key factors with their naturally occurring counterparts, assessed by a first-time full transcriptome analysis of in vivo occurring CD4+ TN cell, TSCM cells and central memory (TCM) cells and in vitro induced CD4+ TSCM cells. Of interest, a group of 56 genes, with a unique expression profile in TSCM cells could be identified. Thus, a pharmacological mechanism allowing to confer sternness to activated TN cells has been found which might be highly relevant for the design of novel T cell-based cancer immunotherapies.
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31/03/2015 12:18
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20/08/2019 16:05
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