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Cell Signal. 2003 Jun;15(6):625-36.

IL-2 activation of a PI3K-dependent STAT3 serine phosphorylation pathway in primary human T cells.

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Department of Biology and Molecular Biology Institute, San Diego State University, 5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego, CA 92182-4614, USA.


Interleukin-2 (IL-2) is the major growth factor of activated T lymphocytes. By inducing cell cycle progression and protection from apoptosis in these cells, IL-2 is involved in the successful execution of an immune response. Upon binding its receptor, IL-2 activates a variety of signal transduction pathways, including the Ras/mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK)/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and Janus kinase (JAK)/STAT cascades. In addition, activation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) and several of its downstream targets has also been shown. However, the coupling of STAT3 serine phosphorylation to PI3K in response to IL-2 has yet to be shown in either T cell lines or primary human T cells. This report shows that the PI3K inhibitors LY294002 and wortmannin block activation of MEK and ERK by IL-2 in primary human T cells. Moreover, these inhibitors significantly reduce IL-2-triggered STAT3 serine phosphorylation without affecting STAT5 serine phosphorylation. Analysis of the effects of these inhibitors on cell cycle progression and apoptosis strongly suggests that PI3K-mediated events, which includes STAT3 activation, are involved in IL-2-mediated cell proliferation but not cell survival. Finally, results presented illustrate that in primary human T cells, activation of Akt is insufficient for IL-2-induced anti-apoptosis. Thus, these results demonstrate that IL-2 stimulates PI3K-dependent events that correlate with cell cycle progression, but not anti-apoptosis, in activated primary human T cells.

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