TAM receptors in apoptotic cell clearance, autoimmunity, and cancer

Autoimmunity. 2013 Aug;46(5):294-7. doi: 10.3109/08916934.2013.794515. Epub 2013 May 10.


Receptor tyrosine kinases, Tyro-3, Axl and Mer, collectively designated as TAM, are involved in the clearance of apoptotic cells. TAM ligands, Gas6 and Protein S, bind to the surfaces of apoptotic cells, and at the same time, interact directly with TAM expressed on phagocytes, impacting the engulfment and clearance of apoptotic cells and debris. The well-tuned and balanced actions of TAM may affect a variety of human pathologies including autoimmunity, retinal degeneration, and cancer. This article emphasizes some of the emerging findings and mechanistic insights into TAM functions that are clinically relevant and possibly therapeutically targeted.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / immunology*
  • Autoimmunity / immunology*
  • Axl Receptor Tyrosine Kinase
  • Cell Death / immunology
  • Cell Survival / immunology
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / physiology*
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / biosynthesis
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / physiology*
  • c-Mer Tyrosine Kinase


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • MERTK protein, human
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • TYRO3 protein, human
  • c-Mer Tyrosine Kinase
  • Axl Receptor Tyrosine Kinase
  • AXL protein, human