The suppressor of cytokine signaling-3 (SOCS3/CIS-33/SSI-3) is an important negative regulator of cytokine signaling. Here, we show that an N-terminal truncated isoform (AN-SOCS3) translated from the internal AUG codon 12 was profoundly induced by endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress- or active double-stranded RNA-activated protein kinase PKR, as a result of induction of eukaryotic initiation factor 2α phosphorylation. ΔN-SOCS3 exhibited a stronger cytokine-inhibitory activity and a higher stability than WT-SOCS3 in Ba/F3 hematopoietic cells. A potential ubiquitination residue, Lys-6, at the N terminus is evolutionary conserved among SOCS3 species. The K6Q-SOCS3 mutant showed a much longer half-life than WT-SOCS3 in Ba/F3 cells. Furthermore, inhibition of the 26 S proteasome pathway increased both ubiquitination and protein levels of WT-SOCS3 but had no effect on K6Q-SOCS3. SOCS3 mutant lacking the carboxyl-terminal SOCS-box exhibited the same stability as K6Q-SOCS3. These observations suggest that the short form of SOCS3 is a naturally occurring stabilized inhibitory protein, whereas WT-SOCS3 is a short-lived protein modulated by Lys-6 ubiquitination and proteasome-dependent degradation. Our findings provide strong evidence for the first time that translational control plays an important role in stabilization and function of SOCS3.
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