Direct activation of mTOR in B lymphocytes confers impairment in B-cell maturation andloss of marginal zone B cells



The tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), composed of TSC1/TSC2 heterodimers, is inhibitory to the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). Deletion of either TSC1 or TSC2 renders mTOR constitutively active. To directly explore the impact of mTOR activation on B-cell development, we conditionally deleted TSC1 in murine B cells. This led to impairment in B-cell maturation. Unexpectedly, and in contrast to Akt activation, marginal zone (MZ) B cells were significantly reduced. Administration of rapamycin partially corrected the MZ defect, indicating a direct role for mTOR in controlling MZ development. When challenged with a T-cell-dependent antigen, TSC1 KO mice responded less efficiently. Consistent with the MZ defects, TSC1 KO mice did not respond at all to T-independent antigens. Because activation of Akt upstream of TSC and mTOR yields the reverse phenotype with respect to MZ development, we conclude that, physiologically, Akt simultaneously emits two opposing signals that counterbalance each other in the control of B-cell differentiation.