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Immunol Res. 2003;27(2-3):549-64.

Evolution of complement as an effector system in innate and adaptive immunity.

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Department of Pathobiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


For a long time, the complement system in mammals has been regarded as a biological system that plays an essential role in innate immunity. More recently, it has been recognized that the complement system contributes heavily to the generation and development of an acquired immune response. In fact, this ancient mechanism of defense has evolved from a primitive mechanism of innate immune recognition in invertebrate species to that of an effector system that bridges the innate with the adaptive immune response in vertebrate species. When and how did complement evolve into a shared effector system between innate and adaptive immunity? To answer this question, our group is interested in understanding the role of complement in innate and adaptive immune responses in an evolutionary relevant species: the teleost fish. The attractiveness of this species as an animal model is based on two important facts. First, teleost fish are one of the oldest animal species to have developed an adaptive immune response. Second, the complement system of teleost fish offers a unique feature, which is the structural and functional diversity of its main effector protein, C3, the third component of the complement system.

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