Sustained glucose and glutamine transport are essential for activated T lymphocytes to support ATP and macromolecule biosynthesis. We found that glutamine and glucose also fuel an indispensable dynamic regulation of intracellular protein O-GlcNAcylation at key stages of T cell development, transformation and differentiation. Glucose and glutamine are precursors of uridine diphosphate N-acetylglucosamine (UDP-GlcNAc), a substrate for cellular glycosyltransferases. Immune-activated T cells contained higher concentrations of UDP-GlcNAc and increased intracellular protein O-GlcNAcylation controlled by the enzyme O-linked-β-N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) glycosyltransferase as compared with naive cells. We identified Notch, the T cell antigen receptor and c-Myc as key controllers of T cell protein O-GlcNAcylation via regulation of glucose and glutamine transport. Loss of O-GlcNAc transferase blocked T cell progenitor renewal, malignant transformation and peripheral T cell clonal expansion. Nutrient-dependent signaling pathways regulated by O-GlcNAc glycosyltransferase are thus fundamental for T cell biology.
- T cells