Send to

Choose Destination
Mol Biol Evol. 2011 Nov;28(11):3087-97. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msr137. Epub 2011 Jun 9.

Evolution of the TIR domain-containing adaptors in humans: swinging between constraint and adaptation.

Author information

Human Evolutionary Genetics, Department of Genomes and Genetics, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France.


Natural selection is expected to act strongly on immune system genes as hosts adapt to novel, diverse, and coevolving pathogens. Population genetic studies of host defense genes with parallel functions in model organisms have revealed distinct evolutionary histories among the different components-receptors, adaptors, and effectors-of the innate immune system. In humans, however, detailed evolutionary studies have been mainly confined to the receptors and in particular to Toll-like receptors (TLRs). By virtue of a toll/interleukin-1 receptor (TIR) domain, TLRs activate distinct signaling pathways, which are mediated by the five TIR-containing adaptors: myeloid differentiation factor-88 (MyD88), myeloid differentiation factor-88 adaptor-like protein (MAL), toll/interleukin-1 receptor domain-containing adaptor protein inducing interferon (IFN)β (TRIF), toll/interleukin-1 receptor domain-containing adaptor protein inducing IFNβ-related adaptor molecule (TRAM), and sterile α- and armadillo motif-containing protein (SARM). Here, we have examined the extent to which natural selection has affected immune adaptors in humans, using as a paradigm the TIR-containing adaptors. To do so, we characterized their levels of naturally occurring genetic variation in various human populations. We found that MyD88 and TRIF have mainly evolved under purifying selection, suggesting that their role in the early stages of signal transduction is essential and nonredundant for host survival. In addition, the adaptors have been targeted by multiple episodes of positive selection, differing in timing and spatial location. MyD88 and SARM display signatures of a selective sweep that has occurred in all humans, whereas for the other three adaptors, we detected signatures of adaptive evolution that are restricted to specific populations. Our study provides evidence that the contemporary diversity of the five TIR-containing adaptors results from the intermingling of different selective events, swinging between constraint and adaptation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems
Loading ...
Support Center