IL-2 activation of a PI3K-dependent STAT3 serine phosphorylation pathway in primary human T cells

Cell Signal. 2003 Jun;15(6):625-36. doi: 10.1016/s0898-6568(03)00003-2.


Interleukin-2 (IL-2) is the major growth factor of activated T lymphocytes. By inducing cell cycle progression and protection from apoptosis in these cells, IL-2 is involved in the successful execution of an immune response. Upon binding its receptor, IL-2 activates a variety of signal transduction pathways, including the Ras/mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK)/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and Janus kinase (JAK)/STAT cascades. In addition, activation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) and several of its downstream targets has also been shown. However, the coupling of STAT3 serine phosphorylation to PI3K in response to IL-2 has yet to be shown in either T cell lines or primary human T cells. This report shows that the PI3K inhibitors LY294002 and wortmannin block activation of MEK and ERK by IL-2 in primary human T cells. Moreover, these inhibitors significantly reduce IL-2-triggered STAT3 serine phosphorylation without affecting STAT5 serine phosphorylation. Analysis of the effects of these inhibitors on cell cycle progression and apoptosis strongly suggests that PI3K-mediated events, which includes STAT3 activation, are involved in IL-2-mediated cell proliferation but not cell survival. Finally, results presented illustrate that in primary human T cells, activation of Akt is insufficient for IL-2-induced anti-apoptosis. Thus, these results demonstrate that IL-2 stimulates PI3K-dependent events that correlate with cell cycle progression, but not anti-apoptosis, in activated primary human T cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Division
  • Cells, Cultured
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-2 / pharmacology*
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases / metabolism
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism*
  • Phosphoinositide-3 Kinase Inhibitors
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras) / metabolism
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • Serine / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction*
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocytes / enzymology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Thymus Gland / immunology
  • Trans-Activators / chemistry
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Interleukin-2
  • Phosphoinositide-3 Kinase Inhibitors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • STAT3 protein, human
  • Trans-Activators
  • Serine
  • AKT1 protein, human
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases
  • HRAS protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)