Inhibition of cell cycle progression by rapamycin induces T cell clonal anergy even in the presence of costimulation

Jonathan D. Powell, Cara G. Lerner, Ronald H. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Costimulation (signal 2) has been proposed to inhibit the induction of T cell clonal anergy by either directly antagonizing negative signals arising from TCR engagement (signal 1) or by synergizing with signal 1 to produce IL- 2, which in turn leads to proliferation and dilution of negative regulatory factors. To better define the cellular events that lead to the induction of anergy, we used the immunosuppressive agent rapamycin, which blocks T cell proliferation in late G1 phase but does not affect costimulation-dependent IL-2 production. Our data demonstrate that full T cell activation (signal 1 plus 2) in the presence of rapamycin results in profound T cell anergy, despite the fact that these cells produce copious amounts of IL-2. Similar to conventional anergy (induction by signal 1 alone), the rapamycin-induced anergic cells show a decrease in mitogen-activated protein kinase activation, and these cells can be rescued by culture in IL-2. Interestingly, the rapamycin-induced anergic cells display a more profound block in IL-3 and IFN-γ production upon rechallenge. Finally, in contrast to rapamycin, full T cell activation in the presence of hydroxyurea (which inhibits the cell cycle in early S phase) did not result in anergy. These data suggest that it is neither the direct effect of costimulation nor the subsequent T cell proliferation that prevents anergy induction, but rather the biochemical events that occur upon progression through the cell cycle from G1 into S phase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2775-2784
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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