Bioessays 1 (10):1-11 (2020)

Bartlomiej Swiatczak
University of Science and Technology of China
Somatic diversification of antigen receptor genes depends on the activity of enzymes whose homologs participate in a mutagenic DNA repair in unicellular species. Indeed, by engaging error‐prone polymerases, gap filling molecules and altered mismatch repair pathways, lymphocytes utilize conserved components of genomic stress response systems, which can already be found in bacteria and archaea. These ancient systems of mutagenesis and repair act to increase phenotypic diversity of microbial cell populations and operate to enhance their ability to produce fit variants during stress. Coopted by lymphocytes, the ancient mutagenic processing systems retained their diversification functions instilling the adaptive immune cells with enhanced evolvability and defensive capacity to resist infection and damage. As reviewed here, the ubiquity and conserved character of specialized variation‐generating mechanisms from bacteria to lymphocytes highlight the importance of these mechanisms for evolution of life in general.
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DOI 10.1002/bies.202000032
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