, Volume 61, Issue 6, pp 463-481
Date: 30 Apr 2009

Origin and evolution of the vertebrate leukocyte receptors: the lesson from tunicates

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Two selected receptor genes of the immunoglobulin superfamily (IgSF), one CTX/JAM family member, and one poliovirus receptor-like nectin that have features of adhesion molecules can be expressed by Ciona hemocytes, the effectors of immunity. They can also be expressed in the nervous system (CTX/JAM) and in the ovary (nectin). The genes encoding these receptors are located among one set of genes, spread over Ciona chromosomes 4 and 10, and containing other IgSF members homologous to those encoded by genes present in a tetrad of human (1, 3 + X, 11, 21 + 19q) or bird chromosomes (1, 4, 24, 31) that include the leukocyte receptor complex. It is proposed that this tetrad is due to the two rounds of duplication that affected a single prevertebrate ancestral region containing a primordial leukocyte receptor complex involved in immunity and other developmental regulatory functions.