AXL, the founding member of the TAM (TYRO3, AXL, and MER) family of receptor tyrosine kinases, was concurrently discovered and characterized by multiple groups in 1991. In their seminal paper, O’Bryan and collaborators were able to transform fibroblasts transfected with DNA isolated from chronic myelogenous leukemic (CML) cells, subsequently isolating a novel transforming gene, which they named AXL based on the Greek word anexelekto, meaning uncontrolled (O’Bryan et al. 1991). Functional characterization of the product of this gene revealed a protein endowed with tyrosine kinase activity and a hydrophobic transmembrane domain which exhibited significant homology with numerous receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs). Highlighting the oncogenic nature of this protein, they demonstrated that overexpression of AXLwas capable of inducing neoplastic transformation of fibroblasts. In...
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