Reconstructing immune phylogeny: new perspectives

Nat Rev Immunol. 2005 Nov;5(11):866-79. doi: 10.1038/nri1712.


Numerous studies of the mammalian immune system have begun to uncover profound interrelationships, as well as fundamental differences, between the adaptive and innate systems of immune recognition. Coincident with these investigations, the increasing experimental accessibility of non-mammalian jawed vertebrates, jawless vertebrates, protochordates and invertebrates has provided intriguing new information regarding the likely patterns of emergence of immune-related molecules during metazoan phylogeny, as well as the evolution of alternative mechanisms for receptor diversification. Such findings blur traditional distinctions between adaptive and innate immunity and emphasize that, throughout evolution, the immune system has used a remarkably extensive variety of solutions to meet fundamentally similar requirements for host protection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Gene Rearrangement, B-Lymphocyte / genetics
  • Gene Rearrangement, B-Lymphocyte / immunology
  • Gene Rearrangement, T-Lymphocyte / genetics
  • Gene Rearrangement, T-Lymphocyte / immunology
  • Genes, Immunoglobulin / genetics
  • Genes, Immunoglobulin / immunology
  • Genes, RAG-1 / immunology
  • Immunity, Innate / genetics*
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology
  • Invertebrates / genetics*
  • Invertebrates / immunology*
  • Phylogeny*
  • Receptors, Immunologic / genetics
  • Receptors, Immunologic / immunology
  • Vertebrates / genetics*
  • Vertebrates / immunology*


  • Receptors, Immunologic