, Volume 71, Issue 5–6, pp 437–443 | Cite as

Strong selection of the TLR2 coding region among the Lagomorpha suggests an evolutionary history that differs from other mammals

  • Fabiana Neves
  • Ana Águeda-Pinto
  • Ana Pinheiro
  • Joana Abrantes
  • Pedro J. EstevesEmail author
Short Communication


Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are one of the first lines of defense against pathogens and are crucial for triggering an appropriate immune response. Among TLRs, TLR2 is functional in all vertebrates and has high ability in detecting bacterial and viral pathogen ligands. The mammals’ phylogenetic tree of TLR2 showed longer branches for the Lagomorpha clade, raising the hypothesis that lagomorphs experienced an acceleration of the mutation rate. This hypothesis was confirmed by (i) Tajima’s test of neutrality that revealed different evolutionary rates between lagomorphs and the remaining mammals with lagomorphs presenting higher nucleotide diversity; (ii) genetic distances were similar among lagomorphs and between lagomorphs and other mammals; and (iii) branch models reinforced the existence of an acceleration of the mutation rate in lagomorphs. These results suggest that the lagomorph TLR2 has been strongly involved in pathogen recognition, which probably caused a host-pathogen arms race that led to the observed acceleration of the mutation rate.


Lagomorphs TLR2 Evolution Mutation rate 


Funding information

This article is a result of the project AGRIGEN – NORTE-01-0145-FEDER-000007, supported by Norte Portugal Regional Operational Programme (NORTE2020), under the PORTUGAL 2020 Partnership Agreement, through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT) supported the FCT Investigator grants of P.J. Esteves (IF/00376/2015) and J. Abrantes (IF/01396/2013).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fabiana Neves
    • 1
  • Ana Águeda-Pinto
    • 1
  • Ana Pinheiro
    • 1
  • Joana Abrantes
    • 1
  • Pedro J. Esteves
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.CIBIO-UP, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, InBIO, Laboratório AssociadoUniversidade do Porto, Campus Agrário de VairãoVairãoPortugal
  2. 2.Departamento de Biologia, Faculdade de CiênciasUniversidade do PortoPortoPortugal
  3. 3.CITS - Centro de Investigação em Tecnologias de SaúdeCESPUGandraPortugal

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