The excitement surrounding checkpoint inhibitors in the treatment of patients with cancer exemplifies a triumph of the long-term value of investing in basic science and fundamental questions of T-cell signaling. The pharmaceutical future actively embraces ways of making more patients' cancers responsive to these inhibitors. Such a process will be aided by elucidation of signaling and regulation. With thousands of articles spread across almost 30 years, this commentary can touch only on portions of the canonical picture of T-cell signaling and provide a few parables from work on mammalian (or mechanistic) target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathways as they link to early and later phases of lymphocyte activation. The piece will turn a critical eye to some issues with models about these pathways in T cells. Many of the best insights lie in the future despite all that is uncovered already, but a contention is that further therapeutic successes will be fostered by dealing with disparities among findings and attention to the temporal, spatial, and stochastic aspects of T-cell responses. Finally, thoughts on some (though not all) items urgently needed for future progress will be mooted.
Keywords: T-cell; T-cell signalling; mTOR.