Immune Response: Evolution


Phagocytosis in unicellular animals represents the most ancient and ubiquitous form of defence against foreign material. Multicellular invertebrates and vertebrates possess phagocytic cells and have evolved more complex functions attributed to immuno‚Äźdefence cells that specialized into cellular and humoral immune responses.

Keywords: invertebrate; vertebrate; immunology; evolution; comparative immunology

Figure 1.

Phagocytic leucocyte from the earthworm that typifies this response in all multicellular invertebrates. Note that the cytoplasm is filled with numerous yeast particles to which the phagocyte has been exposed (×2000).

Figure 2.

Hypothetical scheme of the putative innate immune response in earthworm involving cytotoxic factors. Septic injury provokes the release of coelomocyte cytolytic factor I (CCF) from coelomocytes. CCF possesses two distinct domains, i.e. the N‐terminal domain interacts with lipopolysaccharide and β 1,3‐glucans and the C‐terminal domain mediates its interactions with N,N‐diacetylchitibiose and muramic acid. CCF can trigger the prophenoloxydase cascade (pro‐PO) implicating serine proteases and fetidins (Fe). CCF also enhances phagocytosis by its opsonizing properties and potentiates lysis against various erythrocytes. CCF can be considered as a pattern‐recognition molecule exerting a key role in the innate immune response of earthworm. Catalytic factors (fetidin, eiseniapore (EP), lysenins (Ly) are released from chloragocytes and coelomocytes. These proteins bind to and disturb the lipid bilayer only when particular sphingolipids are present and perform pore channels.

Figure 3.

Transmission electron micrograph of the lymphocytic coelomocyte of the earthworm, involved in rejection of transplants and the killing of the tumour K562 in vitro. Note that the size of the cell is roughly that of a small lymphocyte in vertebrates. The cytoplasm is occupied almost entirely by the nucleus and the cytoplasm contains well‐developed organelles: mitochondria, Golgi apparatus and endoplasmic reticulum. (×34 000). G, Golgi; N, nucleus, No, nucleolus; NC, nuclear cleft; M, mitochondrion; RER, rough endoplasmic reticulum. Reproduced from Salzet M, Tasiemski A and Cooper EL (2006) Innate immunity in lophotrochozoans: the annelids. Current Pharmaceutical Design12: 3043–3050.

Figure 4.

Agglutinin titre curve that represents the typical humoral response of the earthworm to an injection of antigen (rabbit red blood cell, RRBC). (a) Single injection of RRBC (blue circles) or saline (red circles); (b) Two injections of RRBC (green squares) 48 h apart.

Figure 5.

The phylogenetic scheme of the animal kingdom. (a) Phylogeny of invertebrates; (b) Phylogeny of vertebrates (from Cooper, 1976).



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Further Reading

Beck G, Cooper EL, Habicht GS and Marchalonis JJ (eds) (1994) Primordial Immunity, Foundations for the Vertebrate Immune System. New York: New York Academy of Sciences.

Burnet FM (1968) Evolution of the immune process in vertebrates. Nature 218: 426–430.

Cooper EL (1976) Comparative Immunology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice‐Hall.

Cooper EL (1992) Overview of immunoevolution. Bolletino di Zoologia 59: 119–128.

Cooper EL and Nisbet‐Brown E (eds) (1993) Developmental Immunology. New York: Oxford University Press.

Cooper EL, Rinkevich B, Uhlenbruck G and Valembois P (1992) Invertebrate immunity: another viewpoint. Scandinavian Journal of Immunology 35: 247–266.

Cooper EL, Kauschke E and Cossarizza A (2002) Digging for innate immunity since Darwin and Metchikoff. BioEssays 24: 319–333.

Hoffman JA, Janeway C and Natori S (eds) (1994) Perspectives in Immunity: The Insect Host Defense. Austin, TX: RG Landes.

Humphreys T and Reinherz EL (1994) Invertebrate immune recognition, natural immunity and the evolution of positive selection. Immunology Today 15: 316–320.

Janeway CA Jr (1992) The immune system evolved to discriminate infectious non‐self from non‐infectious self. Immunology Today 13: 11–16.

Lowenstein LR (2002) Immunology of viral‐vector‐mediated gene transfer into the brain: an evolutionary and developmental perspective. Trends in Immunology 1: 23–30.

Marchalonis JJ and Schluter SF (1990) On the relevance of invertebrate recognition and defense mechanisms to the emergence of the immune response of vertebrates. Scandinavian Journal of Immunology 32: 13–20.

Salzet M, Tasiemski A and Cooper EL (2006) Innate immunity in lophotrochozoans: the annelids. Current Pharmaceutical Design 12: 3043–3050.

Smith LC and Davidson EH (1992) The echinoid immune system and the phylogenetic occurrence of immune mechanisms in deuterostomes. Immunology Today 13: 356–362.

Stewart J (1992) Immunoglobulins did not arise in evolution to fight infection. Immunology Today 13: 396–399.

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How to Cite close
Cooper, Edwin L(Sep 2007) Immune Response: Evolution. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0000519.pub2]