Inhibition of lymphocyte activation and function by the prenylation inhibitor L-778,123
Interleukin-2 (IL-2) prevents cell apoptosis and promotes survival, but the involved mechanisms have not been completely defined. Although phosphatidylinositide 3-kinase (PI 3-kinase) has been implicated in IL-2-mediated survival mechanisms, none of the 3 chains of the IL-2 receptor (IL-2R) expresses a binding site for PI 3-kinase. However, IL-2Rbeta does express a Syk-binding motif. By using an IL-2-dependent natural killer (NK) cell line, followed by validation of the results in fresh human NK cells, we identified Syk as a critical effector essential for IL-2-mediated prosurvival signaling in NK cells. Down-regulation of Syk by piceatannol treatment impaired NK cellular viability and induced prominent apoptosis as effectively as suppression of PI 3-kinase function by LY294002. Expression of kinase-deficient Syk or pretreatment with piceatannol markedly suppressed IL-2-stimulated activation of PI 3-kinase and Akt, demonstrating that Syk is upstream of PI 3-kinase and Akt. However, constitutively active PI 3-kinase reversed this loss of Akt function caused by kinase-deficient Syk or piceatannol. Thus, Syk appears to regulate PI 3-kinase, which controls Akt activity during IL-2 stimulation. More important, we observed Rac1 activation by IL-2 and found that it mediated PI 3-kinase activation of Akt. This conclusion came from experiments in which dominant-negative Rac1 significantly decreased IL-2-induced Akt activation, whereas constitutively active Rac1 reelevated Akt activity not only in Syk-impaired but also in PI 3-kinase-impaired NK cells. These results constitute the first report of a Syk --> PI3K --> Rac1 --> Akt signal cascade controlled by IL-2 that mediates NK cell survival.