The Syk Tyrosine Kinase: A New Negative Regulator in Tumor Growth and Progression

Cancer Lett. 2006 Sep 28;241(2):159-73. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2005.11.004. Epub 2006 Jan 27.


The spleen tyrosine kinase Syk was long thought to be a hematopoietic cell-specific signaling molecule. Recent evidence demonstrated that it is also expressed by many non-hematopoietic cell types and that it plays a negative role in cancer. A significant drop in its expression was first observed during breast cancer progression, but an anomalous Syk expression has now also been evidenced in many other tumor types. Mechanistic studies using Syk re-expression demonstrated its suppressive function in tumorigenesis and metastasis formation, which is surprising for a tyrosine kinase. Loss of Syk expression is regulated, albeit not exclusively, by its promoter hypermethylation. The molecular mechanism of its tumor-suppressive function remains largely unknown; the identification of its activators and effectors in non-hematopoietic cells will be a challenge for the years to come. An increasing number of clinical studies reveal a correlation between reduced Syk expression and an increased risk for metastasis formation, and assign Syk as a potential new prognostic marker in different tumor types.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / physiology*
  • Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / physiology*
  • Syk Kinase


  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • SYK protein, human
  • Syk Kinase