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Dev Comp Immunol. 2007;31(5):476-82. Epub 2006 Oct 6.

Why did the acquired immune system of vertebrates evolve?

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Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, S10 2TN, Sheffield, UK.


Rapidly expanding genomic information offers important insights into the mechanisms of acquired immunity and has fostered progress in comparative immunology. However, the question of why the acquired immune system, a trait restricted to jawed vertebrates, evolved has rarely been addressed. Here, I will examine three unique features of early vertebrate evolution, during the 50 million years when the acquired immune system evolved: co-evolution with specialised parasites, increased metabolic rates and genomic instability. These combine to shape a powerful multi-level and multi-causal selective scenario that I propose could have moulded the acquired immune system.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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