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Evolution of Myeloid Cells

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  • Authors: Daniel R. Barreda1,2, Harold R. Neely3, Martin F. Flajnik4
  • Editor: Siamon Gordon5
    Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2P5, Canada; 2: Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2P5, Canada; 3: Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Maryland Baltimore, Baltimore, MD 21201; 4: Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Maryland Baltimore, Baltimore, MD 21201; 5: Oxford University, Oxford, United Kingdom
  • Source: microbiolspec May 2016 vol. 4 no. 3 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.MCHD-0007-2015
  • Received 29 April 2015 Accepted 17 July 2015 Published 06 May 2016
  • Daniel R. Barreda, [email protected]; Martin F. Flajnik, [email protected]
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  • Abstract:

    In 1882, Elie Metchnikoff identified myeloid-like cells from starfish larvae responding to the invasion by a foreign body (rose thorn). This marked the origins for the study of innate immunity, and an appreciation that cellular immunity was well established even in these “primitive” organisms. This chapter focuses on these myeloid cells as well as the newest members of this family, the dendritic cells, and explores their evolutionary origins. Our goal is to provide evolutionary context for the development of the multilayered immune system of mammals, where myeloid cells now serve as central effectors of innate immunity and regulators of adaptive immunity. Overall, we find that core contributions of myeloid cells to the regulation of inflammation are based on mechanisms that have been honed over hundreds of millions of years of evolution. Using phagocytosis as a platform, we show how fairly simple beginnings have offered a robust foundation onto which additional control features have been integrated, resulting in central regulatory nodes that now manage multifactorial aspects of homeostasis and immunity.

  • Citation: Barreda D, Neely H, Flajnik M. 2016. Evolution of Myeloid Cells. Microbiol Spectrum 4(3):MCHD-0007-2015. doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.MCHD-0007-2015.


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In 1882, Elie Metchnikoff identified myeloid-like cells from starfish larvae responding to the invasion by a foreign body (rose thorn). This marked the origins for the study of innate immunity, and an appreciation that cellular immunity was well established even in these “primitive” organisms. This chapter focuses on these myeloid cells as well as the newest members of this family, the dendritic cells, and explores their evolutionary origins. Our goal is to provide evolutionary context for the development of the multilayered immune system of mammals, where myeloid cells now serve as central effectors of innate immunity and regulators of adaptive immunity. Overall, we find that core contributions of myeloid cells to the regulation of inflammation are based on mechanisms that have been honed over hundreds of millions of years of evolution. Using phagocytosis as a platform, we show how fairly simple beginnings have offered a robust foundation onto which additional control features have been integrated, resulting in central regulatory nodes that now manage multifactorial aspects of homeostasis and immunity.

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Contributions of phagocytosis to the evolution of myeloid cell function. Major events and key features identified in comparative models are highlighted. Metazoa refers to multicellular animals; invertebrates of the protostome lineage arose 600 MYA and deuterostomes ∼500 MYA. Agnathans are jawless fish, and all other vertebrates have jaws (gnathostomes). Adaptive immunity is found only in the vertebrates, as well as the division of labor among myeloid cells that is well known in mammals. Refer to the text for details of each of the particular features described in the figure. MPS, mononuclear phagocyte system.

Source: microbiolspec May 2016 vol. 4 no. 3 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.MCHD-0007-2015
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