Editors' ChoiceEVOLUTION

A Gene for Early Acceptance

Sci. Signal.  30 Jul 2013:
Vol. 6, Issue 286, pp. ec179
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2004551

One of the fundamental properties of the immune system is the ability to distinguish self- from nonself histocompatibility. To gain insight into the evolution and molecular basis of histocompatibility, Voskoboynik et al. sought to determine the genetic basis for a natural transplantation reaction that occurs in Botryllus schlosseri, a colonial urochordate. Compatibility allows vascular fusion among individuals, whereas incompatibility results in an inflammatory rejection response. A single gene determined the outcome of the reaction. Like histocompatibility genes in higher organisms, this gene is polymorphic and is expressed in the tissues that participate in the transplantation reaction.

A. Voskoboynik, A. M. Newman, D. M. Corey, D. Sahoo, D. Pushkarev, N. F. Neff, B. Passarelli, W. Koh, K. J. Ishizuka, K. J. Palmeri, I. K. Dimov, C. Keasar, H. C. Fan, G. L. Mantalas, R. Sinha, L. Penland, S. R. Quake, I. L. Weissman, Identification of a colonial chordate histocompatibility gene. Science 341, 384–387 (2013). [Abstract] [Full Text]