One of the fundamental biochemical programs influenced by T cell activation is cellular energy metabolism. Naïve T cells encountering processed antigen and co-stimulatory signals from antigen presenting cells (APCs) switch to a program of anabolic growth and biomass accumulation to promote clonal expansion of antigen-specific T cells. This switch from a quiescent to proliferative state dictates increased demand for ATP and biosynthetic precursors for growth. Activated effector T (Teff) cells reprogram their metabolic activities to meet the increased metabolic demands of cell growth, proliferation, and effector function.
Our research in this area is focused on understanding the key metabolic pathways required by effector T cells for effective immune function. We combine metabolomics with conventional sequencing and proteomics profiling to better understand the essential metabolic nodes that support T cell function. Our current interests are in understanding the impact of serine, glycine and one-carbon (SGOC) metabolism and other branch points from glycolysis and the TCA cycle that impact T cell proliferation and effector function. We are also investigating the impact of nutritional interventions to identify key metabolites that support optimal T cell function in vivo.