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.
Copyright 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.