Protein Prenylation Drives Discrete Signaling Programs for the Differentiation and Maintenance of Effector Treg Cells

Cell Metab. 2020 Dec 1;32(6):996-1011.e7. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2020.10.022. Epub 2020 Nov 17.


Effector regulatory T (eTreg) cells are essential for immune tolerance and depend upon T cell receptor (TCR) signals for generation. The immunometabolic signaling mechanisms that promote the differentiation and maintenance of eTreg cells remain unclear. Here, we show that isoprenoid-dependent posttranslational lipid modifications dictate eTreg cell accumulation and function by intersecting with TCR-induced intracellular signaling. We find that isoprenoids are essential for activated Treg cell suppressive activity, and Treg cell-specific deletion of the respective farnesylation- and geranylgeranylation-promoting enzymes Fntb or Pggt1b leads to the development of fatal autoimmunity, associated with reduced eTreg cell accumulation. Mechanistically, Fntb promotes eTreg cell maintenance by regulating mTORC1 activity and ICOS expression. In contrast, Pggt1b acts as a rheostat of TCR-dependent transcriptional programming and Rac-mediated signaling for establishment of eTreg cell differentiation and immune tolerance. Therefore, our results identify bidirectional metabolic signaling, specifically between immunoreceptor signaling and metabolism-mediated posttranslational lipid modifications, for the differentiation and maintenance of eTreg cells.

Keywords: Fntb; Pggt1b; Treg cells; immunometabolism; mTOR; protein prenylation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / immunology*
  • Female
  • Immune Tolerance
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Protein Prenylation
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory* / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory* / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory* / metabolism
  • Terpenes* / immunology
  • Terpenes* / metabolism


  • Terpenes