In cytotoxic T cells (CTL), Akt, also known as protein kinase B, is activated by the T cell antigen receptor (TCR) and the cytokine interleukin 2 (IL-2). Akt can control cell metabolism in many cell types but whether this role is important for CTL function has not been determined. Here we have shown that Akt does not mediate IL-2- or TCR-induced cell metabolic responses; rather, this role is assumed by other Akt-related kinases. There is, however, a nonredundant role for sustained and strong activation of Akt in CTL to coordinate the TCR- and IL-2-induced transcriptional programs that control expression of key cytolytic effector molecules, adhesion molecules, and cytokine and chemokine receptors that distinguish effector versus memory and naive T cells. Akt is thus dispensable for metabolism, but the strength and duration of Akt activity dictates the CTL transcriptional program and determines CTL fate.
- Interleukin 7 receptor
- Gene expression