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Evolution of thymopoiesis in vertebrates

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Host: Jim Kaufman (

One major focus of our work is the evolution of the adaptive immune system.

The adaptive immune system depends on effective quality control to eliminate potentially self-reactive receptors that are generated by a somatic and essentially random rearrangement process. Primary lymphoid organs are the morphological basis for this selection process. We therefore investigate the genetic basis of their development and function. We also utilize the information obtained from mouse to investigate similar processes in more primitive vertebrates and to examine for the possible presence of evolutionary primordia of such organs.

We are also interested in the evolution of the MHC /antigen presentation system and examine the potential role of peptide ligands as signals of genetic individuality in the context of sexual selection. We explore the possibility that such an alternative function of peptides pre-dated the emergence of the VDJ recombination system.

This talk is part of the Immunology in Pathology series.

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