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The evolutionary history of lymphoid organs

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Boehm,  Thomas
Department of Developmental Immunology, Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics, Max Planck Society;

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Bleul,  Conrad C.
Department of Developmental Immunology, Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Boehm, T., & Bleul, C. C. (2007). The evolutionary history of lymphoid organs. Nature Immunology, 8(2), 131-135.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002B-9199-7
Abstract
Lymphoid organs are important regulators of lymphocyte development and immune responses. During vertebrate evolution, primary lymphoid organs appeared earlier than secondary lymphoid organs. Among the sites of primary lymphopoiesis during evolution and ontogeny, those for B cell differentiation have differed considerably, although they often have had myelolymphatic characteristics. In contrast, only a single site for T cell differentiation has occurred, exclusively the thymus. Based on those observations and the known features of variable-diversity-joining gene recombination, we propose a model for the successive specification of different lymphocyte lineages during vertebrate evolution. According to our model, T cells were the first lymphocytes to acquire variable-diversity-joining-type receptors, and the thymus was the first lymphoid organ to evolve in vertebrates to deal with potentially autoreactive, somatically diversified T cell receptors.