The Vitamin A metabolite all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) induces a gut-homing phenotype in activated CD4+ conventional T cells (Tconv) by upregulating the integrin α4β7 and the chemokine receptor CCR9. We report that, in contrast to mouse Tconv, only ∼50% of regulatory T cells (Treg) upregulate CCR9 when stimulated by physiological levels of ATRA, even though Tconv and Treg express similar levels of the retinoic acid receptor (RAR). The resulting bimodal CCR9 expression is not associated with differences in the extent of their proliferation, level of Foxp3 expression, or affiliation with naturally occurring Treg or induced Treg in the circulating Treg pool. Furthermore, we find that exposure of Treg to the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitor rapamycin suppresses upregulation of both CCR9 and α4β7, an effect that is not evident with Tconv. This suggests that in Treg, ATRA-induced upregulation of CCR9 and α4β7 is dependent on activation of a mTOR signaling pathway. The involvement of mTOR is independent of Akt activity, because specific inhibition of Akt, pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase-1, or its downstream target glycogen synthase kinase-3 did not prevent CCR9 expression. Additionally, Rictor (mTOR complex [mTORC]2)-deficient Treg showed unaltered ability to express CCR9, whereas Raptor (mTORC1)-deficient Treg were unable to upregulate CCR9, suggesting the selective participation of mTORC1. These findings reveal a novel difference between ATRA signaling and chemokine receptor induction in Treg versus Tconv and provide a framework via which the migratory behavior of Treg versus Tconv might be regulated differentially for therapeutic purposes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy