Year of publication:
Journal title abbreviated:
DEV COMP IMMUNOL
Journal title long:
Developmental and comparative immunology : an international journal on immunological diversification
The evolutionary origin of allorecognition in vertebrates is unknown. Urochordates, being the closest living relatives of vertebrates [Delsuc F, Brinkmann H, Chourrout D, Philippe H]. Tunicates and not cephalochordates are the closest living relatives of vertebrates. Nature 2006; 439: 965-8], have efficient mechanisms to prevent both allogeneic fusion and self fertilization. To shed light on allorecognition in urochordates and on the molecules involved in preventing self fertilization, we compared gonadal cDNAs of three genetically unrelated Ciona intestinalis individuals by suppression subtractive hybridisation (SSH). Here, we report the discovery and characterization of a highly polymorphic gene coding for a transmembrane protein with several short consensus repeat domains (SCR/CCP). The protein, termed variable complement receptor-like 1 (vCRL1), is structurally similar to vertebrate complement receptors. However, in contrast to vertebrate complement receptors, vCRL1 shows an unprecedented high degree of amino acid variations among Ciona individuals and is expressed in follicle cells as well as in hemocytes. Based on our data we propose that in the absence of MHC Ciona uses variable components of the complement system as individuality markers.