Understanding the control system for regulatory T cells

Memphis, Tennessee, October 24, 2019

St. Jude researchers in white coats sitting in a lab environment reading the results of their latest findings.

Hao Shi, PhD, Nicole Chapman, PhD, and Honbo Chi, PhD, review their findings that the key components of biological machinery may activate regulatory T cells. 

St. Jude immunologists have identified key parts of the system that controls regulatory T cells. These specialized white blood cells suppress the immune system function. This can protect healthy tissues from immune attack or prevent runaway inflammation.

The scientists found the molecular pathway that regulates mTORC1. This enzyme helps activate regulatory T cells. The researchers also found that amino acids trigger mTORC1 through the enzymes Rag and Rheb.

Rag and Rheb are promising targets for drug development. Drugs that activate these enzymes could treat autoimmune diseases. Drugs that inhibit the enzymes could boost cancer immunotherapy.

“Understanding the mechanisms that govern regulatory T cells opens up an array of options for drug development,” said Hongbo Chi, Ph.D., of the St. Jude Department of Immunology. “By boosting or suppressing the activity at the right time, you could develop treatments for cancer or autoimmune disorders.”

Immunity published a report on this work.

Read the full News Release.

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