alexa Evolution of the immune system in the lower vertebrates.
Immunology

Immunology

Immunogenetics: Open Access

Author(s): Thomas Boehm

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The evolutionary emergence of vertebrates was accompanied by the invention of adaptive immunity. This is characterized by extraordinarily diverse repertoires of somatically assembled antigen receptors and the facility of antigen-specific memory, leading to more rapid and efficient secondary immune responses. Adaptive immunity emerged twice during early vertebrate evolution, once in the lineage leading to jawless fishes (such as lamprey and hagfish) and, independently, in the lineage leading to jawed vertebrates (comprising the overwhelming majority of extant vertebrates, from cartilaginous fishes to mammals). Recent findings on the immune systems of jawless and jawed fishes (here referred to as lower vertebrates) impact on the identification of general principles governing the structure and function of adaptive immunity and its coevolution with innate defenses. The discovery of conserved features of adaptive immunity will guide attempts to generate synthetic immunological functionalities and thus provide new avenues for intervening with faulty immune functions in humans.

This article was published in Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics and referenced in Immunogenetics: Open Access

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