Volume : 5, Issue : 1, JAN 2019




When the Chordate phylum first evolved the initial species did not possess the ability to make perforin. This meant the were easy prey for many parasites, as perforin is a critical defence protein. Then about 500 to 600 million years ago some remarkable events occurred, simultaneously: lymphocytes made a sudden appearance, the Chordate phylum obtained perforin, and adaptive immunity in which the major histocompatibility complex plays a central role developed. In addition, complex signaling between immunological cells also appeared, and a T-cell receptor antigen recognition system was established. No satisfactory explanation has ever been offered to explain the sudden appearance of a whole new class of circulating cells, the lymphocytes, and the associated immunological tools and weapons; and the method of acquiring perforin is usually dismissed as being by “a mechanism of horizontal gene transfer”. We suggest that all these events are related in that a new species was created when a substantial part of the genome of a protozoan parasite fused with an oocyte precursor in a Chordate host, bringing with it the ability to make perforin, and the ability to undertake complex intercellular signaling in one fell swoop. This event would also explain the continued confinement of Perforin 1 to the NK and CTL lymphocytes, and by virtue of their superior immune protection, would also contribute to an explanation of the subsequent dominance of Chordate fish clades in the Devonian period.



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