Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 58, Issue 4, pp 442–448 | Cite as

Origin of Toll-Like Receptor-Mediated Innate Immunity

  • Stefan M. Kanzok
  • Ngo T. Hoa
  • Mariangela Bonizzoni
  • Coralia Luna
  • Yaming Huang
  • Anna R. Malacrida
  • Liangbiao Zheng


Toll-related receptors (TLR) have been found in four animal phyla: Nematoda, Arthropoda, Echinodermata, and Chordata. No TLR has been identified thus far in acoelomates. TLR genes play a pivotal role in the innate immunity in both fruit fly and mammals. The prevailing view is that TLR-mediated immunity is ancient. The two pseudocoelomate TLRs, one each from Caenorhabditis elegans and Strongyloides stercoralis, were distinct from the coelomate ones. Further, the only TLR gene (Tol-1) in Ca. elegans did not appear to play a role in innate immunity. We argue that TLR-mediated innate immunity developed only in the coelomates, after they split from pseudocoelomates and acoelomates. We hypothesize that the function of TLR-mediated immunity is to prevent microbial infection in the body cavity present only in the coelomates. Phylogenetic analysis showed that almost all arthropod TLRs form a separate cluster from the mammalian counterparts. We further hypothesize that TLR-mediated immunity developed independently in the protostomia and deuterostomia coelomates.


Toll Innate immunity Coelomate Pseudocoelomate Antimicrobial peptide 


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We are grateful for generous gifts from U. Schmidt-Ott (for the Clogmia genomic cDNA library), D. Fish (for Culex pipiens), G. Yan (for Tribolium samples), and G. Lanzaro, and L. Munstermann for other insect species. This work is supported in part by NIH Grant R01A43035 and an award from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund to L.Z. S.M.K. was supported in part by the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) and N.T.H. was supported by the Wellcome Trust.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefan M. Kanzok
    • 1
  • Ngo T. Hoa
    • 1
  • Mariangela Bonizzoni
    • 2
  • Coralia Luna
    • 1
  • Yaming Huang
    • 1
  • Anna R. Malacrida
    • 2
  • Liangbiao Zheng
    • 1
  1. 1.Yale University School of Medicine, Epidemiology and Public Health, 60 College Street, New Haven, CT 06520USA
  2. 2.Department of Animal BiologyUniversity of Pavia, Piazza Botta 9, 27100 PaviaItaly

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