Tumour-secreted protein S (ProS1) activates a Tyro3-Erk signalling axis and protects cancer cells from apoptosis

Nour Al Abdullah Al Kafri, Sassan Hafizi

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The TAM subfamily (Tyro3, Axl, MerTK) of receptor tyrosine kinases are implicated in several cancers, where they have been shown to support primary tumorigenesis as well as secondary resistance to cancer therapies. Relatively little is known about the oncogenic role of Tyro3, including its ligand selectivity and signalling in cancer cells. Tyro3 showed widespread protein and mRNA expression in a variety of human cancer cell lines. In SCC-25 head and neck cancer cells expressing both Tyro3 and Axl, Western blotting showed that both natural TAM ligands ProS1 and Gas6 rapidly stimulated Tyro3 and Erk kinase phosphorylation, with ProS1 eliciting a greater effect. In contrast, Gas6 was the sole stimulator of Axl and Akt kinase phosphorylation. In MGH-U3 bladder cancer cells, which express Tyro3 alone, ProS1 was again the stronger stimulator of Tyro3 and Erk stimulation but additionally stimulated Akt phosphorylation. Conditioned medium from ProS1-secreting 786-0 kidney cancer cells replicated the kinase activation effects of recombinant ProS1 in SCC-25 cells, with specificity confirmed by ProS1 ligand traps and warfarin. In addition, ProS1 protected cancer cells from acute apoptosis induced by staurosporine, as well as additionally, long-term serum starvation-induced apoptosis in MGH-U3 cells (Tyro3 only), which reflects its additional coupling to Akt signalling in these cells. In conclusion, we have shown that ProS1 is a tumour-derived functional ligand for Tyro3 that supports cancer cell survival. Furthermore, the ProS1-Tyro3 interaction is primarily coupled to Erk signalling although it displays signalling diversity dependent upon its representative expression as a TAM receptor in tumour cells.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1843
Number of pages17
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2019


  • Tyro3
  • Gas6
  • growth factors
  • receptor tyrosine kinase
  • protein S
  • cell survivial
  • signal transduction
  • vitamin K
  • paracrine


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