This study uses two independent genetic strategies to explore the requirement for phosphoinositide-dependent kinase-1 (PDK1) in the development of mature T cell populations from CD4/CD8 double-positive thymocytes. The data show that CD4/CD8 double-positive thymocytes that do not express PDK1 or express a catalytically inactive PDK1 mutant fail to produce mature invariant V alpha 14 NKT cells but can differentiate to conventional CD4, CD8, or regulatory T cell subsets in the thymus. The PDK1 requirement for V alpha 14 NKT cell development reflects that these cells require the PDK1 substrate protein kinase B to meet the metabolic demands for proliferative expansion in response to IL-15 or AgR stimulation. There is also constitutive PDK1 signaling in conventional alpha/beta T cells that is not required for lineage commitment of these cells but fine-tunes the expression of coreceptors and adhesion molecules. Also, although PDK1 is dispensable for thymic development of conventional alpha/beta T cells, peripheral cells are reduced substantially. This reflects a PDK1 requirement for lymphopenia-induced proliferation, a process necessary for initial population of the peripheral T cell niche in neonatal mice. PDK1 is thus indispensable for T cell developmental programs, but the timing of the PDK1 requirement is unique to different T cell subpopulations. The Journal of Immunology, 2010, 185: 5973-5982.
- Deficient mice