Are innate immune signaling pathways in plants and animals conserved?

Nat Immunol. 2005 Oct;6(10):973-9. doi: 10.1038/ni1253.


Although adaptive immunity is unique to vertebrates, the innate immune response seems to have ancient origins. Common features of innate immunity in vertebrates, invertebrate animals and plants include defined receptors for microbe-associated molecules, conserved mitogen-associated protein kinase signaling cascades and the production of antimicrobial peptides. It is commonly reported that these similarities in innate immunity represent a process of divergent evolution from an ancient unicellular eukaryote that pre-dated the divergence of the plant and animal kingdoms. However, at present, data suggest that the seemingly analogous regulatory modules used in plant and animal innate immunity are a consequence of convergent evolution and reflect inherent constraints on how an innate immune system can be constructed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Vesicular Transport / immunology
  • Adaptor Proteins, Vesicular Transport / physiology
  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / physiology
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / physiology
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Immunoglobulins / physiology
  • Insecta / immunology
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / physiology
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / physiology
  • Nectins
  • Plants / immunology
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / physiology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Toll-Like Receptors
  • Vertebrates / immunology


  • Adaptor Proteins, Vesicular Transport
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Immunoglobulins
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Nectins
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • TICAM-1 protein, mouse
  • Toll-Like Receptors