Pathogens and Cancer: Clonal Processes and Evolution

  • Edwin L. CooperEmail author


There is evidence of interrelations between the immune system and the development of cancer. The intersection between the two: cancer <-> immune response may depend upon the interaction with pathogens. Hosts and pathogens interact so that clones may develop. Cancer and clonal development, like other biological events evolved, seem to share an affinity: cancer and clonality are considered evolutionary processes. From a phylogenetic perspective, information supports an area of affinity. A mechanism has been identified, the existence of suppression via p53, a well-known suppressor. Returning to the relation between the development of clonal responses and an inducer may depend upon the characteristics of the pathogen. Nonpathogenic antigens induce short-lived specific responses generated and mediated by clones that are specific and therefore express specific destruction. Most pathogens (viruses, fungi, bacteria) are harmful, but some do not induce infections. The living world includes a staggering array of life, and each life form may be vulnerable to attack by pathogens that cause disease and, ultimately, death.


Clonality Pathogen Cancer Immunity p53 



I wish to express sincere appreciation to Hillary Brown, whose dedication helped immeasurably to prepare the final version. Nora Wells, Jason Lee, Nicola Overstreet, and Ralph Albert, my students, also worked during the early stages to develop this manuscript.

With kind permission from Springer Science+Business Media: Earthworm Innate Immune System, chapter 14/article title, 24, 2011, 229–45, Engelmann P, Cooper EL, Opper B, Nemeth P Fig. 14.1. Soil Biol.

Reprinted with permission from Macmillan Publishers Ltd. on behalf of Cancer Research UK: Greaves M, Maley CC (2012) Clonal evolution in cancer. Nature 481(7381): 306–13.

We also acknowledge the reproduced/adapted with permission Figs. 2, 3, 5 and 6 from Ohsawa S, Sugimura K, Takino K, Xu T, Miyawaki A, Igaki T (2011) Elimination of oncogenic neighbors by JNK-mediated engulfment in Drosophila. Dev Cell 20(3): 315–28, and Lemmi Carlos AE, Cooper EL (1981) Induction of coelomocyte proliferation by xenografts in the earthworm Lumbricus terrestris. Dev Comp Immunol 5:73–80.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Comparative Immunology, Department of NeurobiologyDavid Geffen School of Medicine, UCLALos AngelesUSA

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