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Galectin-3 stimulates Tyro3 receptor tyrosine kinase and Erk signalling, cell survival and migration in human cancer cells

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The TAM (Tyro3, Axl, MerTK) subfamily of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) and their ligands, Gas6 and protein S (ProS1), are implicated in tumorigenesis and chemoresistance in various cancers. The -galactoside binding protein galectin-3 (Gal-3), which is also implicated in oncogenesis, was more recently shown to be a ligand for MerTK. However, the selectivity of Gal-3 for the other TAM receptors, and its TAM-mediated signalling and functional properties in cancer cells, remain to be explored. The present study was aimed at determining these, including through direct comparison of Gal-3 with the two canonical TAM ligands. Exogenous Gal-3 rapidly stimulated Tyro3 receptor phosphorylation to the same extent as the Tyro3 ligand ProS1, but not Axl, in the cultured human cancer cell lines SCC-25 (express both Tyro3 and Axl) and MGH-U3 (express Tyro3 only). Gal-3 also activated intracellular Erk and Akt kinases in both cell lines and furthermore protected cells from acute apoptosis induced by staurosporine but not from serum21 starvation induced apoptosis. In addition, Gal-3 significantly stimulated cancer cell migration rate in the presence of the Axl blocker BGB324. Therefore, these results have shown Gal-3 to be a novel agonist for Tyro3 RTK, activating a Tyro3-Erk signalling axis, as well as Akt signalling, in cancer cells that promotes cell survival, cell cycle progression and cell migration. These data therefore reveal a novel mechanism of Tyro3 RTK activation through the action of Gal-3 that contrasts with those of the known TAM ligands Gas6 and ProS1.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1035
JournalBiomolecules
Volume10
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jul 2020

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