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J Leukoc Biol. 2004 Jan;75(1):18-26. Epub 2003 Jul 15.

Biology of Toll receptors: lessons from insects and mammals.

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Institut de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, CNRS, 15 rue René Descartes, 67000 Strasbourg, France.


Toll receptors are type I transmembrane proteins that play important roles in development and immunity in animals. Comparison of the genomes of mouse and human on one side and of the fruitfly Drosophila and the mosquito Anopheles (two dipteran insects) on the other, revealed that the four species possess a similar number of Toll receptors (approximately 10). However, phylogenetic analyses indicate that the families of Toll receptors expanded independently in insects and mammals. We review recent results on these receptors, which point to differences in the activation and signaling between Tolls in insects and Toll-like receptors (TLRs) in mammals. Whereas mammalian TLRs appear to be solely dedicated to host-defense, insect Tolls may be predominantly linked to other functions, probably developmental.

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