Adaptive immunity, involving distinctive antibody- and cell-mediated responses to specific antigens based on "memory" of previous exposure, is a hallmark of higher vertebrates. It has been argued that adaptive immunity arose rapidly, as articulated in the "big bang theory" surrounding its origins, which stresses the importance of coincident whole-genome duplications. Through a close examination of the key molecules and molecular processes underpinning adaptive immunity, this review suggests a less-extreme model, in which adaptive immunity emerged as part of longer evolutionary journey. Clearly, whole-genome duplications provided additional raw genetic materials that were vital to the emergence of adaptive immunity, but a variety of other genetic events were also required to generate some of the key molecules, whereas others were preexisting and simply co-opted into adaptive immunity.
Field of Research
110704 Cellular Immunology
Socio Economic Objective
970111 Expanding Knowledge in the Medical and Health Sciences