Aerobic glycolysis-the Warburg effect-converts glucose to lactate via the enzyme lactate dehydrogenase A (LDHA) and is a metabolic feature of effector T cells. Cells generate ATP through various mechanisms and Warburg metabolism is comparatively an energy-inefficient glucose catabolism pathway. Here, we examined the effect of ATP generated via aerobic glycolysis in antigen-driven T cell responses. Cd4CreLdhafl/fl mice were resistant to Th17-cell-mediated experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis and exhibited defective T cell activation, migration, proliferation, and differentiation. LDHA deficiency crippled cellular redox balance and inhibited ATP production, diminishing PI3K-dependent activation of Akt kinase and thereby phosphorylation-mediated inhibition of Foxo1, a transcriptional repressor of T cell activation programs. Th17-cell-specific expression of an Akt-insensitive Foxo1 recapitulated the defects seen in Cd4CreLdhafl/fl mice. Induction of LDHA required PI3K signaling and LDHA deficiency impaired PI3K-catalyzed PIP3 generation. Thus, Warburg metabolism augments glycolytic ATP production, fueling a PI3K-centered positive feedback regulatory circuit that drives effector T cell responses.
Keywords: ATP; LDHA; PI3K; Th17 cell; autoimmunity; glycolysis; redox balance.
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