Regulatory T (Treg) cells derived from the thymus (tTreg) and periphery (pTreg) have central and distinct functions in immunosuppression, but mechanisms for the generation and activation of Treg subsets in vivo are unclear. Here, we show that mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) unexpectedly supports the homeostasis and functional activation of tTreg and pTreg cells. mTOR signaling is crucial for programming activated Treg-cell function to protect immune tolerance and tissue homeostasis. Treg-specific deletion of mTOR drives spontaneous effector T-cell activation and inflammation in barrier tissues and is associated with reduction in both thymic-derived effector Treg (eTreg) and pTreg cells. Mechanistically, mTOR functions downstream of antigenic signals to drive IRF4 expression and mitochondrial metabolism, and accordingly, deletion of mitochondrial transcription factor A (Tfam) severely impairs Treg-cell suppressive function and eTreg-cell generation. Collectively, our results show that mTOR coordinates transcriptional and metabolic programs in activated Treg subsets to mediate tissue homeostasis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Physics and Astronomy
- General Chemistry
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology