Research ArticleIMMUNOLOGY

Tim-3 adaptor protein Bat3 is a molecular checkpoint of T cell terminal differentiation and exhaustion

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Science Advances  30 Apr 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 18, eabd2710
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abd2710


T cell exhaustion has been associated with poor prognosis in persistent viral infection and cancer. Conversely, in the context of autoimmunity, T cell exhaustion has been favorably correlated with long-term clinical outcome. Understanding the development of exhaustion in autoimmune settings may provide underlying principles that can be exploited to quell autoreactive T cells. Here, we demonstrate that the adaptor molecule Bat3 acts as a molecular checkpoint of T cell exhaustion, with deficiency of Bat3 promoting a profound exhaustion phenotype, suppressing autoreactive T cell–mediated neuroinflammation. Mechanistically, Bat3 acts as a critical mTORC2 inhibitor to suppress Akt function. As a result, Bat3 deficiency leads to increased Akt activity and FoxO1 phosphorylation, indirectly promoting Prdm1 expression. Transcriptional analysis of Bat3−/− T cells revealed up-regulation of dysfunction-associated genes, concomitant with down-regulation of genes associated with T cell effector function, suggesting that absence of Bat3 can trigger T cell dysfunction even under highly proinflammatory autoimmune conditions.

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