Donna A Chow

Department of Immunology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB Canada, R3M 0P9 ABSTRACT

The activation of the natural immune response is initiated through multiple recognition molecules representing numerous structural families including, several lectin families, pentraxins, leucine-rich repeats, many members of the IgSF, integrins, scavenger receptors and the seven transmembrane receptor family, which have been maintained through evolution. Invading pathogens exhibit a range of different repeating epitopes. Host molecules, soluble or on cell surfaces, express a variety of receptors capable of recognising these epitopes and act in a combinatorial manner which confers specificity to the host response. The number, diversity and ancient evolutionary origin of these receptors argues for the essential nature of their functions. While providing a first line of defence against invading pathogens is clearly crucial for organism survival, evidence is accumulating that these same receptors participate in essential functions unrelated to defence against invaders.

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