Roquin Suppresses the PI3K-mTOR Signaling Pathway to Inhibit T Helper Cell Differentiation and Conversion of Treg to Tfr Cells
Roquin proteins preclude spontaneous T cell activation and aberrant differentiation of T follicular helper (Tfh) or T helper 17 (Th17) cells. Here we showed that deletion of Roquin-encoding alleles specifically in regulatory T (Treg) cells also caused the activation of conventional T cells. Roquin-deficient Treg cells downregulated CD25, acquired a follicular Treg (Tfr) cell phenotype, and suppressed germinal center reactions but could not protect from colitis. Roquin inhibited the PI3K-mTOR signaling pathway by upregulation of Pten through interfering with miR-17∼92 binding to an overlapping cis-element in the Pten 3′ UTR, and downregulated the Foxo1-specific E3 ubiquitin ligase Itch. Loss of Roquin enhanced Akt-mTOR signaling and protein synthesis, whereas inhibition of PI3K or mTOR in Roquin-deficient T cells corrected enhanced Tfh and Th17 or reduced iTreg cell differentiation. Thereby, Roquin-mediated control of PI3K-mTOR signaling prevents autoimmunity by restraining activation and differentiation of conventional T cells and specialization of Treg cells.