Genes "waiting" for recruitment by the adaptive immune system: The insights from amphioxus

Cuiling Yu, Meiling Dong, Xiaokun Wu, Shengguo Li, Shengfeng Huang, Jing Su, Jianwen Wei, Yang Shen, Chunyan Mou, Xiaojin Xie, Jianghai Lin, Shaochun Yuan, Xuesong Yu, Yanhong Yu, Jingchun Du, Shicui Zhang, Xuanxian Peng, Mengqing Xiang, Anlong Xu

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58 Scopus citations


In seeking evidence of the existence of adaptive immune system (AIS) in ancient chordate, cDNA clones of six libraries from a protochordate, the Chinese amphioxus, were sequenced. Although the key molecules such as TCR, MHC, Ig, and RAG in AIS have not been identified from our database, we demonstrated in this study the extensive molecular evidence for the presence of genes homologous to many genes that are involved in AIS directly or indirectly, including some of which may represent the putative precursors of vertebrate AIS-related genes. The comparative analyses of these genes in different model organisms revealed the different fates of these genes during evolution. Their gene expression pattern suggested that the primitive digestive system is the pivotal place of the origin and evolution of the AIS. Our studies support the general statement that AIS appears after the jawless/jawed vertebrate split However our study further reveals the fact that AIS is in its twilight in amphioxus and the evolution of the molecules in amphioxus are waiting for recruitment by the emergence of AIS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3493-3500
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 15 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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