Inhibition of immune checkpoint molecules, PD-1 and CTLA4, has been shown to be a promising cancer treatment. PD-1 and CTLA4 inhibit TCR and co-stimulatory signals. The third T cell activation signal represents the signals from the cytokine receptors. The cytokine interferon-γ (IFNγ) plays an important role in anti-tumor immunity by activating cytotoxic T cells (CTLs). Most cytokines use the Janus kinase (JAK)/signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) pathway, and the suppressors of cytokine signaling (SOCS) family of proteins are major negative regulators of the JAK/STAT pathway. Among SOCS proteins, CIS, SOCS1, and SOCS3 proteins can be considered the third immunocheckpoint molecules since they regulate cytokine signals that control the polarization of CD4+ T cells and the maturation of CD8+ T cells. This review summarizes recent progress on CIS, SOCS1, and SOCS3 in terms of their anti-tumor immunity and potential applications.
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