Background: Tyro3, Axl, and Mertk (TAMs) are a family of three conserved receptor tyrosine kinases that have pleiotropic roles in innate immunity and homeostasis and when overexpressed in cancer cells can drive tumorigenesis.
Methods: In the present study, we engineered EGFR/TAM chimeric receptors (EGFR/Tyro3, EGFR/Axl, and EGF/Mertk) with the goals to interrogate post-receptor functions of TAMs, and query whether TAMs have unique or overlapping post-receptor activation profiles. Stable expression of EGFR/TAMs in EGFR-deficient CHO cells afforded robust EGF inducible TAM receptor phosphorylation and activation of downstream signaling.
Results: Using a series of unbiased screening approaches, that include kinome-view analysis, phosphor-arrays, RNAseq/GSEA analysis, as well as cell biological and in vivo readouts, we provide evidence that each TAM has unique post-receptor signaling platforms and identify an intrinsic role for Axl that impinges on cell motility and invasion compared to Tyro3 and Mertk.
Conclusion: These studies demonstrate that TAM show unique post-receptor signatures that impinge on distinct gene expression profiles and tumorigenic outcomes.
Keywords: Invasion; Metastasis; Signaling; TAM RTKs.