The mammalian immune system comprises an adaptive and an innate component. The innate immune system employs a limited number of germ-line-encoded pattern-recognition receptors (PRRs) that recognize invariant pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs). In contrast, the adaptive immune system depends on the generation of a diverse repertoire of antigen receptors on T and B lymphocytes and subsequent activation and clonal expansion of cells carrying the appropriate antigen-specific receptors. Induction of adaptive immunity not only depends on direct antigen recognition by the antigen receptors but also relies on essential signals that are delivered by the innate immune system. In recent years, we have witnessed the discovery of a still expanding array of different PRR systems that govern the generation of adaptive immunity. Here, we review our current understanding of innate control of adaptive immunity. In particular, we discuss how PRRs initiate adaptive immune responses in general, discuss specific mechanisms that shape the ensuing T and B cell responses, and highlight open questions that are still awaiting answers.
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