Vertebrate adaptive immunity is characterized by challenge-specific long-term protection. This specific memory is achieved through the vast diversity of somatically rearranged immunological receptors such as antibodies. Whether or not invertebrates are capable of a comparable phenotypic plasticity and memory has long been a matter of debate. A recent study on Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes now establishes Down syndrome cell adhesion molecule (Dscam) as a key immune surveillance factor with characteristics analogous to antibodies. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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