The Role of TAM Family Receptors in Immune Cell Function: Implications for Cancer Therapy

Cancers (Basel). 2016 Oct 21;8(10):97. doi: 10.3390/cancers8100097.


The TAM receptor protein tyrosine kinases-Tyro3, Axl, and Mer-are essential regulators of immune homeostasis. Guided by their cognate ligands Growth arrest-specific gene 6 (Gas6) and Protein S (Pros1), these receptors ensure the resolution of inflammation by dampening the activation of innate cells as well as by restoring tissue function through promotion of tissue repair and clearance of apoptotic cells. Their central role as negative immune regulators is highlighted by the fact that deregulation of TAM signaling has been linked to the pathogenesis of autoimmune, inflammatory, and infectious diseases. Importantly, TAM receptors have also been associated with cancer development and progression. In a cancer setting, TAM receptors have a dual regulatory role, controlling the initiation and progression of tumor development and, at the same time, the associated anti-tumor responses of diverse immune cells. Thus, modulation of TAM receptors has emerged as a potential novel strategy for cancer treatment. In this review, we discuss our current understanding of how TAM receptors control immunity, with a particular focus on the regulation of anti-tumor responses and its implications for cancer immunotherapy.

Keywords: Cbl-b; Gas6; NK cells; Protein S; TAM receptors; cancer immunotherapy.

Publication types

  • Review