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J Biol Chem. 1997 Sep 12;272(37):23285-91.

GAS6 mediates adhesion of cells expressing the receptor tyrosine kinase Axl.

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  • 1Curriculum in Genetics and Molecular Biology, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599, USA.


Axl is a receptor tyrosine kinase that contains both immunoglobulin and fibronectin III repeats in its extracellular domain reminiscent of cell adhesion molecules. Expression of the receptor tyrosine kinase Axl in the 32D myeloid cell line permits aggregation of cells in response to treatment with the native ligand GAS6; this aggregation was not observed in untreated 32D-Axl cells nor in treated parental cells. This aggregation can be blocked by the addition of excess Axl extracellular domain peptide and does not require intracellular Axl kinase activity. Cell surface binding activity of GAS6 was mapped to distinct plasma membrane interacting domains that are separate from the GAS6 motifs that engage the Axl receptor. This suggests that aggregation is mediated by a heterotypic intercellular mechanism whereby cell-bound GAS6 interacts with Axl receptor on an adjacent cell. This mechanism is supported by our observation that GAS6 binds to 32D parental cells which then permits their aggregation with untreated 32D-Axl cells. We have recently demonstrated that the GAS6-Axl interaction does not initiate mitogenesis in 32D cells. When considered with the adhesion results, these data suggest that an important biological function of the Axl-GAS6 interaction is to mediate cell-cell binding.

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