Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase signaling in thymocytes: the need for stringent control.
Fayard E., Moncayo G., Hemmings BA., Holländer GA.
The thymus serves as the primary site for the lifelong formation of new T lymphocytes; hence, it is essential for the maintenance of an effective immune system. Although thymocyte development has been widely studied, the mechanisms involved are incompletely defined. A comprehensive understanding of the molecular events that control regular thymocyte development will not only shed light on the physiological control of T cell differentiation but also probably provide insight into the pathophysiology of T cell immunodeficiencies, the molecular basis that underpins autoimmunity, and the mechanisms that instigate the formation of T cell lymphomas. Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinases (PI3Ks) play a critical role in thymocyte development, although not all of their downstream mediators have yet been identified. Here, we discuss experimental evidence that argues for a critical role of the PI3K-phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase (PDK1)-protein kinase B (PKB) signaling pathway in the development of both normal and malignant thymocytes, and we highlight molecules that can potentially be targeted therapeutically.