The mTOR Kinase Determines Effector versus Memory CD8+ T Cell Fate by Regulating the Expression of Transcription Factors T-bet and Eomesodermin

Rajesh R. Rao, Qingsheng Li, Kunle Odunsi, Protul A. Shrikant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

435 Scopus citations


The mechanisms underpinning integration of instructions that program naive CD8+ T cells for effector and/or memory differentiation are not well understood. Herein, we demonstrate that interleukin-12 (IL-12) enhanced and sustained antigen and costimulatory molecule (B7.1)-induced mTOR kinase activity in naive CD8+ (OT-I) T cells via phosphoinositide 3-kinase and STAT4 transcription factor pathways. Blocking mTOR activity by rapamycin reversed IL-12-induced effector functions because of loss of persistent expression of the transcription factor T-bet. Rapamycin treatment of IL-12-conditioned OT-I cells promoted persistent Eomesodermin expression and produced memory cell precursors that demonstrated enhanced sustenance and antigen-recall responses upon adoptive transfer. The memory cell precursors showed greater tumor efficacy than IL-12-conditioned effector OT-I cells. These results identify mTOR as the central regulator of transcriptional programs that determine effector and/or memory cell fates in CD8+ T cells. Targeting mTOR activity offers new opportunities to regulate CD8+ T cell-mediated immunity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-78
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 29 2010



ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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