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Critical Reviews™ in Oncogenesis

ISSN Print: 0893-9675
ISSN Online: 2162-6448

Critical Reviews™ in Oncogenesis

DOI: 10.1615/CritRevOncog.v16.i1-2.60
pages 47-63

TAM Receptors in Leukemia: Expression, Signaling, and Therapeutic Implications

Luis Brandao
Department of Pediatrics, University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, Aurora, Colorado
Justine Migdall-Wilson
Department of Pediatrics, University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, Aurora, Colorado
Kristen Eisenman
Department of Pediatrics, University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, Aurora, Colorado
Douglas K. Graham
Department of Pediatrics, University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, Aurora, Colorado

ABSTRACT

In the past 30 years there has been remarkable progress in the treatment of leukemia and lymphoma. However, current treatments are largely ineffective against relapsed leukemia and, in the case of pediatric patients, are often associated with severe long-term toxicities. Thus, there continues to be a critical need for the development of effective biologically targeted therapies. The TAM family of receptor tyrosine kinases−Tyro3, Axl, and Mer−plays an important role in normal hematopoiesis, including natural killer cell maturation, macrophage function, and platelet activation and signaling. Furthermore, TAM receptor activation leads to upregulation of pro-survival and proliferation signaling pathways, and aberrant TAM receptor expression contributes to cancer development, including myeloid and lymphoid leukemia. This review summarizes the role of TAM receptors in leukemia. We outline TAM receptor expression patterns in different forms of leukemia, describe potential mechanisms leading to their overexpression, and delineate the signaling pathways downstream of receptor activation that have been implicated in leukemogenesis. Finally, we discuss the current research focused on inhibitors against these receptors in an effort to develop new therapeutic strategies for leukemia.