Neglected biological features in cnidarians self-nonself recognition

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Cnidarian taxa, currently of the most morphologically simplest extant metazoans, exhibit many salient properties of innate immunity that are shared by most Animalia. One hallmark constituent of immunity exhibit by most cnidarians is histocompatibility, marked by wide spectrum of allogeneic and xenogeneic effector arms, progressing into tissue fusions oRinflammatory rejections. Scientific propensity on cnidarians immunity, while discussing historecognition as the ground for immunity in these organisms, concentrates on host-parasitic and disease oriented studies, or focuses on genome approaches that search for gene homologies with the vertebrates. Above tendency for mixing up between historecognition and host-parasitic/disease, highlights a serious obstacle for the progress in our understanding of cnidarian immunobiology. Here I critically overview four 'forgotten' cnidarian immune features, namely, specificity, immunological memory, allogeneic maturation and natural chimerism, presenting insights into perspectives that are prerequisite for any discussion on cnidarian evolution. It is evident that cnidarian historecognition embraces elements that the traditional field of vertebrate immunology has never encountered (i.e., variety of cytotoxic outcomes, different types of effector mechanisms, chimerism, etc.). Also, cnidarian immune features dictating that different individuals within the same species seem to respond differently to the same immunological challenge, is far from that recorded in the vertebrates' adaptive immunity. While above features may be connected to host-parasitic and disease phenomena and effector arms, they clearly attest to their unique critical roles in shaping cnidarians historecognition, calling for improved distinction between historecognition and host-response/ disease disciplines. The research on cnidarians immunity still suffers from the lack of accepted synthesis of what historecognition is or does. Mounting of an immune response against conspecifics or xenogeneic organisms should therefore be clearly demarcated from other paths of immunity, till cnidarian innate immunity as a whole is expounded.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSelf and Nonself
Number of pages14
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
ISSN (Print)0065-2598

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (all)


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