Uncoupling p70s6 kinase activation and proliferation: Rapamycin-resistant proliferation of human CD8+ T lymphocytes1

J. M. Slavik, D. G. Lim, S. J. Burakoff, D. A. Hafler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Rapamycin is a fungal macrolide that inhibits the proliferation of T cells. Studies in both animals and humans have found that rapamycin significantly reduces graft rejection. However, though CD8+ T cells are involved in graft infiltration and rejection, little is known regarding the effects of rapamycin on CD8+ human T cell responses. In this study, we examined the mechanism of rapamycin-induced inhibition of Ag-driven activation of CD8+ T cells. Surprisingly, a heterogeneous proliferative response in the presence of rapamycin was observed among different Ag-specific CD8+ T cell clones; this was also observed in CD8+ peripheral blood T cells activated with TCR cross-linking ex vivo. Inhibition of T cell proliferation by rapamycin was controlled by both the strength of signal delivered through the Ag receptor as well as the specific costimulatory signals received by the T cell. Rapamycin-resistant proliferation occurred despite inhibition of p70s6 kinase activity. Moreover, rapamycin-resistant proliferation of the CD8+ T cell clones was blocked by anti-IL-2 Abs, suggesting that while some of the parallel pathways triggered by IL-2R signaling are sensitive to the effects of rapamycin, others account for the Ag-driven rapamycin resistance. These data provide a new framework for examining the specific mechanism of action of rapamycin in human disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3201-3209
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2001
Externally publishedYes


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