Mer Tyrosine Kinase Regulates Disseminated Prostate Cancer Cellular Dormancy

Frank C. Cackowski, Matthew R. Eber, James Rhee, Ann M. Decker, Kenji Yumoto, Janice E. Berry, Eunsohl Lee, Yusuke Shiozawa, Younghun Jung, Julio A. Aguirre-Ghiso, Russell S. Taichman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Many prostate cancer (PCa) recurrences are thought to be due to reactivation of disseminated tumor cells (DTCs). We previously found a role of the TAM family of receptor tyrosine kinases TYRO3, AXL, and MERTK in PCa dormancy regulation. However, the mechanism and contributions of the individual TAM receptors is largely unknown. Knockdown of MERTK, but not AXL or TYRO3 by shRNA in PCa cells induced a decreased ratio of P-Erk1/2 to P-p38, increased expression of p27, NR2F1, SOX2, and NANOG, induced higher levels of histone H3K9me3 and H3K27me3, and induced a G1/G0 arrest, all of which are associated with dormancy. Similar effects were also observed with siRNA. Most importantly, knockdown of MERTK in PCa cells increased metastasis free survival in an intra-cardiac injection mouse xenograft model. MERTK knockdown also failed to inhibit PCa growth in vitro and subcutaneous growth in vivo, which suggests that MERTK has specificity for dormancy regulation or requires a signal from the PCa microenvironment. The effects of MERTK on the cell cycle and histone methylation were reversed by p38 inhibitor SB203580, which indicates the importance of MAP kinases for MERTK dormancy regulation. Overall, this study shows that MERTK stimulates PCa dormancy escape through a MAP kinase dependent mechanism, also involving p27, pluripotency transcription factors, and histone methylation. J. Cell. Biochem. 118: 891–902, 2017.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)891-902
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cellular Biochemistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • AXL
  • TYRO3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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