Phosphatidylserine Is the Signal for TAM Receptors and Their Ligands

Trends Biochem Sci. 2017 Sep;42(9):738-748. doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2017.06.004. Epub 2017 Jul 19.


Nature repeatedly repurposes, in that molecules that serve as metabolites, energy depots, or polymer subunits are at the same time used to deliver signals within and between cells. The preeminent example of this repurposing is ATP, which functions as a building block for nucleic acids, an energy source for enzymatic reactions, a phosphate donor to regulate intracellular signaling, and a neurotransmitter to control the activity of neurons. A series of recent studies now consolidates the view that phosphatidylserine (PtdSer), a common phospholipid constituent of membrane bilayers, is similarly repurposed for use as a signal between cells and that the ligands and receptors of the Tyro3/Axl/Mer (TAM) family of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) are prominent transducers of this signal.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Phosphatidylserines / chemistry
  • Phosphatidylserines / pharmacology*
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / deficiency
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*


  • Ligands
  • Phosphatidylserines
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases