mTORC2 negatively controls the maturation process of medullary thymic epithelial cells by inhibiting the LTβR/RANK-NF-κB axis.

Research paper by Zhanfeng Z Liang, Qian Q Zhang, Xue X Dong, Zhaoqi Z Zhang, Hongxia H Wang, Jiayu J Zhang, Yong Y Zhao

Indexed on: 05 Dec '20Published on: 04 Dec '20Published in: Journal of Cellular Physiology


The differentiation of mature medullary thymic epithelial cells (mTECs) is critical for the induction of central immune tolerance. Although the critical effect of mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) in shaping mTEC differentiation has been studied, the regulatory role of mTORC2 in the differentiation and maturation of mTECs is poorly understood. We herein reported that TEC-specific ablation of a rapamycin-insensitive companion of mTOR (RICTOR), a key component of mTORC2, significantly decreased the thymus size and weight, the total cell number of TECs, and the cell number of mTECs with a smaller degree of reduced cortical thymic epithelial cells. Interestingly, RICTOR deficiency significantly accelerated the mTEC maturation process, as indicated by the increased ratios of mature mTECs (MHCII , CD80 , and Aire ) to immature mTECs (MHCII , CD80 , and Aire ) in Rictor-deficient mice. The RNA-sequencing assays showed that the upregulated nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) signaling pathway in Rictor-deficient mTECs was one of the obviously altered pathways compared with wild-type mTECs. Our studies further showed that Rictor-deficient mTECs exhibited upregulated expression of receptor activator of NF-κB (RANK) and lymphotoxin β receptor (LTβR), as well as increased activity of canonical and noncanonical NF-κB signaling pathways as determined by ImageStream and Simple Western. Finally, our results showed that inhibition of NF-κB signaling pathways could partially reverse the accelerated maturation of mTECs in Rictor conditional KO mice. Thus, mTORC2 negatively controls the kinetics of the mTEC maturation process by inhibiting the LTβR/RANK-NF-κB signal axis. © 2020 Wiley Periodicals LLC.