Design principles of adaptive immune systems

Nat Rev Immunol. 2011 May;11(5):307-17. doi: 10.1038/nri2944. Epub 2011 Apr 8.


Both jawless vertebrates, such as lampreys and hagfish, and jawed vertebrates (encompassing species as diverse as sharks and humans) have an adaptive immune system that is based on somatically diversified and clonally expressed antigen receptors. Although the molecular nature of the antigen receptors and the mechanisms of their assembly are different, recent findings suggest that the general design principles underlying the two adaptive immune systems are surprisingly similar. The identification of such commonalities promises to further our understanding of the mammalian immune system and to inspire the development of new strategies for medical interventions targeting the consequences of faulty immune functions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity* / genetics
  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Hagfishes / genetics
  • Hagfishes / immunology
  • Humans
  • Lampreys / genetics
  • Lampreys / immunology
  • Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Lymphopoiesis
  • Receptors, Antigen / genetics
  • Receptors, Antigen / immunology*


  • Receptors, Antigen