The suppressor of cytokine signalling (SOCS) family comprises proteins induced on cytokine stimulation, which block further signalling in a classic feedback loop. They are thought to achieve this by targeting signalling intermediates for degradation. However, because any imbalance of these proteins can result in a broad range of pathologies, it is now clear that SOCS are also involved in determining cell fate and in regulating the inflammatory process. This occurs because each SOCS targets distinct signalling pathways, and their altered expression can cause diseases as diverse as inflammatory bowel disease, allergy, autoimmune diseases and diabetes. Determining the importance SOCS proteins in these human pathologies will no doubt aid the development of novel therapeutic strategies.
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