Metabolism, migration and memory in cytotoxic T cells

Nat Rev Immunol. 2011 Feb;11(2):109-17. doi: 10.1038/nri2888. Epub 2011 Jan 14.


The transcriptional and metabolic programmes that control CD8(+) T cells are regulated by a diverse network of serine/threonine kinases. The view has been that the kinases AKT and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) control T cell metabolism. Here, we challenge this paradigm and discuss an alternative role for these kinases in CD8(+) T cells, namely to control cell migration. Another emerging concept is that AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) family members control T cell metabolism and determine the effector versus memory fate of CD8(+) T cells. We speculate that one link between metabolism and immunological memory is provided by kinases that originally evolved to control T cell metabolism and have subsequently acquired the ability to control the expression of key transcription factors that regulate CD8(+) T cell effector function and migratory capacity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Movement*
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Memory*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / enzymology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology*
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*


  • MTOR protein, human
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt