Glycolysis fuels phosphoinositide 3-kinase signaling to bolster T cell immunity

Glycolysis fuels phosphoinositide 3-kinase signaling to bolster T cell immunity

A metabolic circuit in T cell immunity

Naïve T cells are metabolically reprogrammed when they differentiate into T effector (Teff) cells, transitioning from a reliance on mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation to aerobic glycolysis. Xu et al. found that lactate dehydrogenase A (LDHA), a glycolytic enzyme that converts pyruvate to lactate, is a key player in this process. Teff cells that differentiate in mice infected with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes turned on LDHA through phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling. By promoting adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production, LDHA in turn facilitated PI3K-dependent inactivation of the transcription factor Foxo1 needed for effective Teff cell responses. Thus, glycolytic ATP acts like a rheostat that both gauges and regulates PI3K-dependent signaling. This type of positive feedback circuit may also provide a mechanistic explanation for the Warburg effect observed in cancer cells.

Science, this issue p. 405


Infection triggers expansion and effector differentiation of T cells specific for microbial antigens in association with metabolic reprograming. We found that the glycolytic enzyme lactate dehydrogenase A (LDHA) is induced in CD8+ T effector cells through phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling. In turn, ablation of LDHA inhibits PI3K-dependent phosphorylation of Akt and its transcription factor target Foxo1, causing defective antimicrobial immunity. LDHA deficiency cripples cellular redox control and diminishes adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production in effector T cells, resulting in attenuated PI3K signaling. Thus, nutrient metabolism and growth factor signaling are highly integrated processes, with glycolytic ATP serving as a rheostat to gauge PI3K-Akt-Foxo1 signaling in the control of T cell immunity. Such a bioenergetic mechanism for the regulation of signaling may explain the Warburg effect.

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