Malignant melanoma is the most aggressive form of cutaneous carcinoma, accounting for 75% of all deaths caused by skin cancers. Microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF) is a master gene regulating melanocyte development and functions as a "lineage addiction" oncogene in malignant melanoma. We have identified the receptor protein tyrosine kinase TYRO3 as an upstream regulator of MITF expression by a genome-wide gain-of-function cDNA screen and show that TYRO3 induces MITF-M expression in a SOX10-dependent manner in melanoma cells. Expression of TYRO3 is significantly elevated in human primary melanoma tissue samples and melanoma cell lines and correlates with MITF-M mRNA levels. TYRO3 overexpression bypasses BRAF(V600E)-induced senescence in primary melanocytes, inducing transformation of non-tumorigenic cell lines. Furthermore, TYRO3 knockdown represses cellular proliferation and colony formation in melanoma cells, and sensitizes them to chemotherapeutic agent-induced apoptosis; TYRO3 knockdown in melanoma cells also inhibits tumorigenesis in vivo. Taken together, these data indicate that TYRO3 may serve as a target for the development of therapeutic agents for melanoma.