Toll-like receptors--taking an evolutionary approach

The Toll receptor was initially identified in Drosophila melanogaster for its role in embryonic development. Subsequently, D. melanogaster Toll and mammalian Toll-like receptors (TLRs) have been recognized as key regulators of immune responses. After ten years of intense research on TLRs and the recent accumulation of genomic and functional data in diverse organisms, we review the distribution and functions of TLRs in the animal kingdom. We provide an evolutionary perspective on TLRs, which sheds light on their origin at the dawn of animal evolution and suggests that different TLRs might have been co-opted independently during animal evolution to mediate analogous immune functions.

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