mTORC2 acts as a gatekeeper for mTORC1 deficiency-mediated impairments in ILC3 development
Group 3 innate lymphoid cells (ILC3s) are mediators of intestinal immunity and barrier function. Recent studies have investigated the role of the mammalian target of rapamycin complex (mTOR) in ILC3s, whereas the mTORC1-related mechanisms and crosstalk between mTORC1 and mTORC2 involved in regulating ILC3 homeostasis remain unknown. In this study, we found that mTORC1 but not mTORC2 was critical in ILC3 development, IL-22 production, and ILC3-mediated intestinal homeostasis. Single-cell RNA sequencing revealed that mTORC1 deficiency led to disruption of ILC3 heterogeneity, showing an increase in differentiation into ILC1-like phenotypes. Mechanistically, mTORC1 deficiency decreased the expression of NFIL3, which is a critical transcription factor responsible for ILC3 development. The activities of both mTORC1 and mTORC2 were increased in wild-type ILC3s after activation by IL-23, whereas inhibition of mTORC1 by Raptor deletion or rapamycin treatment resulted in increased mTORC2 activity. Previous studies have demonstrated that S6K, the main downstream target of mTORC1, can directly phosphorylate Rictor to dampen mTORC2 activity. Our data found that inhibition of mTORC1 activity by rapamycin reduced Rictor phosphorylation in ILC3s. Reversing the increased mTORC2 activity via heterozygous or homozygous knockout of Rictor in Raptor-deleted ILC3s resulted in severe ILC3 loss and complete susceptibility to intestinal infection in mice with mTORC1 deficiency (100% mortality). Thus, mTORC1 acts as a rheostat of ILC3 heterogeneity, and mTORC2 protects ILC3s from severe loss of cells and immune activity against intestinal infection when mTORC1 activity is diminished.