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Mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) including Erk, Jnk and p38 regulate diverse cellular functions and are thought to be controlled by independent upstream activation cascades. Here we show that the sestrins bind to and coordinate simultaneous Erk, Jnk and p38 MAPK activation in T lymphocytes within a new immune-inhibitory complex (sestrin-MAPK activation complex (sMAC)). Whereas sestrin ablation resulted in broad reconstitution of immune function in stressed T cells, inhibition of individual MAPKs allowed only partial functional recovery. T cells from old humans (>65 years old) or mice (16-20 months old) were more likely to form the sMAC, and disruption of this complex restored antigen-specific functional responses in these cells. Correspondingly, sestrin deficiency or simultaneous inhibition of all three MAPKs enhanced vaccine responsiveness in old mice. Thus, disruption of sMAC provides a foundation for rejuvenating immunity during aging.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat immunol

Publication Date





354 - 363


Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Aging, Animals, CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Cells, Cultured, Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases, Female, Heat-Shock Proteins, Humans, Immunity, Immunosenescence, MAP Kinase Kinase 4, Male, Mice, Middle Aged, RNA, Small Interfering, Signal Transduction, Young Adult