SOCS-1 and SOCS-3 block insulin signaling by ubiquitin-mediated degradation of IRS1 and IRS2.
Inflammation associates with peripheral insulin resistance, which dysregulates nutrient homeostasis and leads to diabetes. Inflammation induces the expression of SOCS proteins. We show that SOCS1 or SOCS3 targeted IRS1 and IRS2, two critical signaling molecules for insulin action, for ubiquitin-mediated degradation. SOCS1 or SOCS3 bound both recombinant and endogenous IRS1 and IRS2 and promoted their ubiquitination and subsequent degradation in multiple cell types. Mutations in the conserved SOCS box of SOCS1 abrogated its interaction with the elongin BC ubiquitin-ligase complex without affecting its binding to IRS1 or IRS2. The SOCS1 mutants also failed to promote the ubiquitination and degradation of either IRS1 or IRS2. Adenoviral-mediated expression of SOCS1 in mouse liver dramatically reduced hepatic IRS1 and IRS2 protein levels and caused glucose intolerance; by contrast, expression of the SOCS1 mutants had no effect. Thus, SOCS-mediated degradation of IRS proteins, presumably via the elongin BC ubiquitin-ligase, might be a general mechanism of inflammation-induced insulin resistance, providing a target for therapy.