The TAM family of receptors (i.e., Tyro3, Axl, and Mertk), and their ligands Growth arrest specific factor 6 (Gas6) and Protein S (Pros1) contribute to several oncogenic processes, such as cell survival, invasion, migration, chemo-resistance, and metastasis, whereby expression often correlates with poor clinical outcomes. In recent years, there has been great interest in the study of TAM receptors in cancer, stemming both from their roles as oncogenic signaling receptors, as well as their roles in tumor immunology. As a result, several classes of TAM inhibitors that include small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors, monoclonal antibodies, decoy receptors, as well as novel strategies to target TAM ligands are being developed. This paper will review the biology of TAM receptors and their ligands with a focus on cancer, as well as evidence-based data for the continued pursuit of TAM/Gas6 inhibitors in clinical practice.
Keywords: Axl; Gas6; Mertk; Tyro3; immune evasion; protein S; tumor microenvironment.