Dendritic cells (DCs) are essential antigen-presenting cells that sample the extra- and intracellular milieu to process antigens for the instruction of T cell responses. The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) network senses environmental cues and is important for numerous cellular processes. This review discusses how DCs use mTOR complexes (mTORC1 and 2) to adapt their cellular metabolism, transcriptional responses, and translation machinery to control DC development, antigen processing, cytokine production, and T cell stimulation. We present a spatiotemporal model suggesting that the mTOR network integrates pattern recognition and growth factor receptor activation with nutritional information from the cell and surrounding tissue to support T cell stimulation and tolerance. mTOR develops into a central player that regulates DC differentiation and immune functions.
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