Evolutionary Factors in the Emergence of the Combinatorial Germline Antibody Repertoire

  • John J. Marchalonis
  • Miranda K. Adelman
  • Brian J. Zeitler
  • Paul M. Sarazin
  • P. Michael Jaqua
  • Samuel F. Schluter
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 484)


Although life began on earth approximately 3.5 billion years ago, the combinatorial immune response apparently arose in a “big bang” approximately 450 million years ago, [1–4] coincident with the emergence of jawed vertebrates. Preceding this event was the so-called Cambrian explosion occurring approximately 545 million years ago that resulted in the seemingly rapid appearance of virtually all living forms as represented by the fossil record [5, 6]. However, molecular investigations seeking to calibrate evolutionary clocks and analyze phylogenetic relationships indicate that the explosive phases of evolution implied by the fossil record may have been preceded by extended periods of inconspicuous innovation [5, 6] in possible living organisms thatdid not become part of the currently available fossil record. The necessary elements of the combinatorial immune system, immunoglobulins (Igs), T-cell receptors (TCR), MHC products and recombinase activator genes (RAG) are clearly present in even the most primitive jawed vertebrates, the chondrichthian fishes [7–10] which appeared in evolution approximately 450 million years ago. Definitive evidence for these elements is thus far lacking in agnathan vertebrates and in lower deuterostomes. Nevertheless, many primordial elements upon which the combinatorial system is built may well have preceded the split in evolution between protostomes and deuterostomes and their origins may even extrapolate back to ancient times corresponding to the origin and evolution of bacteria.


Light Chain Natural Antibody Constant Domain Tiger Shark Nurse Shark 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • John J. Marchalonis
    • 1
  • Miranda K. Adelman
    • 1
  • Brian J. Zeitler
    • 1
  • Paul M. Sarazin
    • 1
  • P. Michael Jaqua
    • 1
  • Samuel F. Schluter
    • 1
  1. 1.Microbiology and Immunology College of MedicineUniversity of ArizonaTucson

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