Metabolic and Epigenetic Coordination of T Cell and Macrophage Immunity

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Recognition of pathogens by innate and adaptive immune cells instructs rapid alterations of cellular processes to promote effective resolution of infection. To accommodate increased bioenergetic and biosynthetic demands, metabolic pathways are harnessed to maximize proliferation and effector molecule production. In parallel, activation initiates context-specific gene-expression programs that drive effector functions and cell fates that correlate with changes in epigenetic landscapes. Many chromatin- and DNA-modifying enzymes make use of substrates and cofactors that are intermediates of metabolic pathways, providing potential cross talk between metabolism and epigenetic regulation of gene expression. In this review, we discuss recent studies of T cells and macrophages supporting a role for metabolic activity in integrating environmental signals with activation-induced gene-expression programs through modulation of the epigenome and speculate as to how this may influence context-specific macrophage and T cell responses to infection.

Pathogen detection induces gene expression and metabolic shifts in immune cells to facilitate effector programs. Phan, Goldrath, and Glass review emerging evidence that metabolic activity modulates “writers” and “erasers” of the epigenetic landscape and discuss how this may tailor tissue-specific activity of macrophages and T cells.

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