The interaction between Axl receptor tyrosine kinase and its main ligand Gas6 has been implicated in the progression of a wide number of malignancies. More recently, overexpression of Axl has emerged as a key molecular determinant underlying the development of acquired resistance to targeted anticancer agents. The activation of Axl is overexpression-dependent and controls a number of hallmarks of cancer progression including proliferation, migration, resistance to apoptosis and survival through a complex network of intracellular second messengers. Axl has been noted to influence clinically meaningful end points including metastatic recurrence and survival in the vast majority of tumour types. With Axl inhibitors having gained momentum as novel anticancer therapies, we provide an overview of the biological and clinical relevance of this molecular pathway, outlining the main directions of research.
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