IL-7 promotes Glut1 trafficking and glucose uptake via STAT5-mediated activation of Akt to support T-cell survival.


Lymphocyte homeostasis requires coordination of metabolic processes with cellular energetic and biosynthetic demands but mechanisms that regulate T-cell metabolism are uncertain. We show that interleukin-7 (IL-7) is a key regulator of glucose uptake in T lymphocytes. To determine how IL-7 affects glucose uptake, we analyzed IL-7 signaling mechanisms and regulation of the glucose transporter, Glut1. The IL-7 receptor (IL-7R) stimulated glucose uptake and cell-surface localization of Glut1 in a manner that required IL-7R Y449, which promoted rapid signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (STAT5) activation and a delayed yet sustained activation of Akt. Each pathway was necessary for IL-7 to promote glucose uptake, as Akt1(-/-) T cells or PI3-kinase inhibition and RNAi of STAT5 led to defective glucose uptake in response to IL-7. STAT5 and Akt acted in a linear pathway, with STAT5-mediated transcription leading to Akt activation, which was necessary for STAT5 and IL-7 to promote glucose uptake and prevent cell death. Importantly, IL-7 required glucose uptake to promote cell survival. These data demonstrate that IL-7 promotes glucose uptake via a novel signaling mechanism in which STAT5 transcriptional activity promotes Akt activation to regulate Glut1 trafficking and glucose uptake that is critical for IL-7 to prevent T-cell death and maintain homeostasis.