T cell subsets including effector (Teff), regulatory (Treg), and memory (Tmem) cells are characterized by distinct metabolic profiles that influence their differentiation and function. Previous research suggests that engagement of long-chain fatty acid oxidation (LC-FAO) supports Foxp3+ Treg cell and Tmem cell survival. However, evidence for this is mostly based on inhibition of Cpt1a, the rate-limiting enzyme for LC-FAO, with the drug etomoxir. Using genetic models to target Cpt1a specifically in T cells, we dissected the role of LC-FAO in primary, memory, and regulatory T cell responses. Here we show that the ACC2/Cpt1a axis is largely dispensable for Teff, Tmem, or Treg cell formation, and that the effects of etomoxir on T cell differentiation and function are independent of Cpt1a expression. Together our data argue that metabolic pathways other than LC-FAO fuel Tmem or Treg differentiation and suggest alternative mechanisms for the effects of etomoxir that involve mitochondrial respiration.
Keywords: AMPK; CD8 T cells; CPT; acetyl-CoA carboxylase; carnitine palmitoyltransferase; etomoxir; fatty acid oxidation; memory T cells; regulatory T cells.
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