Molecular genetic evidence has revealed that the basic templates of innate immune sensors were laid down in ancient animals such as the cnidarian Hydra. Important functions of Hydra's innate immune sensors and effectors include not only protection against pathogens but also controlling tissue-microbiota homeostasis. The deep evolutionary connections imply that invertebrate and mammalian immune pathways have evolved from a reduced number of common ancestral building blocks to their present configurations. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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