Leucine Metabolism in T Cell Activation: mTOR Signaling and Beyond1–3

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In connection with the increasing interest in metabolic regulation of the immune response, this review discusses current advances in understanding the role of leucine and leucine metabolism in T lymphocyte (T cell) activation. T cell activation during the development of an immune response depends on metabolic reprogramming to ensure that sufficient nutrients and energy are taken up by the highly proliferating T cells. Leucine has been described as an important essential amino acid and a nutrient signal that activates complex 1 of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTORC1), which is a critical regulator of T cell proliferation, differentiation, and function. The role of leucine in these processes is further discussed in relation to amino acid transporters, leucine-degrading enzymes, and other metabolites of leucine metabolism. A new model of T cell regulation by leucine is proposed and outlines a chain of events that leads to the activation of mTORC1 in T cells.

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