The receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) TYRO3, AXL and MERTK (TAM) have well-described oncogenic functions in a number of cancers. Notwithstanding, TAM RTKs are also potent and indispensable inhibitors of inflammation. The combined deletion of Axl and Mertk in mice enhances chronic inflammation and autoimmunity, including increased inflammation in the gut and colitis-associated cancer. On the other hand, deletion of Tyro3 increases the risk of allergic responses. Therefore, the indiscriminate inhibition of these TAM RTKs could result in undesirable immunological diseases. Here we show that AXL, but not MERTK or TYRO3 expression is enhanced in late stage colorectal cancer (CRC) and AXL expression associates with a cell migration gene signature. Silencing AXL or the inhibition of AXL kinase activity significantly inhibits tumor cell migration and invasion. These results indicate that the selective inhibition of AXL alone might confer sufficient therapeutic benefit in CRC, while preserving at least some of the beneficial, anti-inflammatory effects of MERTK and TYRO3 RTKs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)