Mice, men and the relatives: cross-species studies underpin innate immunity

Clare E. Bryant, Tom P. Monie

Abstract

The innate immune response is the first line of defence against infection. Germ-line-encoded receptors recognize conserved molecular motifs from both exogenous and endogenous sources. Receptor activation results in the initiation of a pro-inflammatory immune response that enables the resolution of infection. Understanding the inner workings of the innate immune system is a fundamental requirement in the search to understand the basis of health and disease. The development of new vaccinations, the treatment of pathogenic infection, the generation of therapies for chronic and auto-inflammatory disorders, and the ongoing battle against cancer, diabetes and atherosclerosis will all benefit from a greater understanding of innate immunity. The rate of knowledge acquisition in this area has been outstanding. It has been underpinned and driven by the use of model organisms. Information obtained from Drospohila melanogaster, knock-out and knock-in mice, and through the use of forward genetics has resulted in discoveries that have opened our eyes to the functionality and complexity of the innate immune system. With the current increase in genomic information, the range of innate immune receptors and pathways of other species available to study is rapidly increasing, and provides a rich resource to continue the development of innate immune research. Here, we address some of the highlights of cross-species study in the innate immune field and consider the benefits of widening the species-field further.

  • Received January 20, 2012.
  • Accepted March 16, 2012.

© 2012 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.

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