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J Biol Chem. 2003 Aug 8;278(32):29752-9. Epub 2003 Jun 2.

Suppressor of cytokine signaling 3 regulates proliferation and activation of T-helper cells.

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Laboratory of Immunology, National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


Suppressors of cytokine signaling (SOCS) have been implicated in regulation of T-cell activation and cytokine-mediated differentiation of T-helper cells. In this study we have characterized the pattern of SOCS expression in naïve and activated primary T-helper cells, examined whether expression of SOCS genes is regulated by cytokine or T-cell receptor signaling, and analyzed the function of SOCS in differentiated T-cells. We show that SOCS1, SOCS2, SOCS3, CIS (cytokine-induced SH2 protein) genes are constitutively expressed in naïve T-helper cells, with SOCS3 being the most abundant. Antigen stimulation of naïve T-helper cells down-regulates SOCS3 expression and concomitantly up-regulates SOCS1, SOCS2, and CIS gene transcription, suggesting that SOCS genes are regulated differentially by T-cell activation. Down-regulation of SOCS3 expression is subsequently followed by gradual increase in SOCS3 level and corresponding decline in interleukin 2 (IL-2) secretion. In fact, SOCS3 mRNA levels are inversely correlated with the amount of IL-2 secretion and proliferative responses of differentiating T-helper cells, suggesting mutually antagonistic effects of SOCS3 and IL-2 and feedback regulation of T-cell activation by SOCS3. Furthermore, the degree of SOCS3 inhibition is antigen concentration-dependent and is mediated in part by growth factor independence-1, a T-cell transcription factor that regulates S-phase entry in T-cells. Forced overexpression of SOCS3 inhibits proliferation of T-helper cells, whereas depletion of endogenous SOCS3 by antisense SOCS3 cDNA enhances T-cell receptor- and cytokine-induced proliferation. Taken together, these results suggest a role for SOCS3 in maintaining T-helper cells in a quiescent state. Transient inhibition of SOCS3 by antigen stimulation may therefore be essential in allowing activation of resting T-cells.

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