, Volume 61, Issue 6, pp 463–481

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

Original Paper


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.


Linkage Duplication Evolution Tunicates Leukocyte receptors Hemocytes 

Supplementary material

251_2009_373_Fig1_ESM.tif (59.9 mb)
High Resolution (TIFF 61299 kb)
251_2009_373_MOESM1_ESM.doc (70 kb)
Supplementary Table 1The 15 Ciona genes followed in the human tetrad (DOC 69 kb)
251_2009_373_MOESM2_ESM.doc (312 kb)
Supplementary Table 2Organization of the IgSF and linked genes pertinent to this study on Human (a, b, c, d, e) and Chicken (f, g, h, i) chromosomes (DOC 312 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Animal Physiology and EvolutionStazione Zoologica Anton DohrnNaplesItaly
  2. 2.LATP UMR 6632 CNRS Evolution biologique et ModélisationUniversité de ProvenceMarseille Cedex 03France
  3. 3.Institute of Zoology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland

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