Identification of signalling pathways activated by Tyro3 that promote cell survival, proliferation and invasiveness in human cancer cells

Nour Al Kafri, Sassan Hafizi

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Tyro3 is a member of the TAM subfamily of receptor tyrosine kinases alongside Axl and MerTK, which are activated by homologous ligands Gas6 and protein S. The TAMs activate signalling pathways that mediate diverse functions including cell survival, proliferation, phagocytosis and immune regulation, and defects in TAM-dependent processes are associated with the development of human autoimmune diseases and numerous cancers. In this study, we have focused on the signalling and functional roles of Tyro3, about which much remains unknown. For this purpose, we used cultured human cancer cell lines with different levels of TAM expression to reveal the relative significance of Tyro3 amongst the TAMs. Knockdown of Tyro3 expression by siRNA in MGH-U3 cells, which express Tyro3 as sole TAM, caused a reduction in cell viability, which could not be rescued by TAM ligand, demonstrating the dependence of these cells solely on Tyro3. In contrast, the reduced viability of SCC-25 cells upon Tyro3 knockdown could be rescued by Gas6 as these cells express both Tyro3 and Axl and hence Axl expression was preserved. An increase in the fraction of Tyro3 knockdown cells in the early apoptotic phase was observed in four different cell lines each with a different TAM expression profile, revealing a broad anti-apoptotic function of Tyro3. Furthermore, in the Tyro3-dependent cells, Tyro3 depletion caused a significant increase in cells in the G0/G1 phase of the cell cycle concomitant with decreases in the G2/M and S phases. In addition, a cancer pathway gene discovery array revealed distinct sets of genes that were altered in expression in cancer cells upon Tyro3 knockdown. Together, these results have elucidated further a role of Tyro3 in promoting multiple tumour-supporting pathways in human cancer cells, which differs in extent depending on the presence of other TAMs in the same cells.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101111
Number of pages10
JournalBiochemistry and Biophysics Reports
Early online date23 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • Tyro3
  • TAM receptor
  • apoptosis
  • cell cycle
  • signal transduction
  • siRNA knockdown


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