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Signatures of selection acting on the innate immunity gene Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) during the evolutionary history of rodents.

  • Barbara Tschirren
  • Lars Råberg
  • Helena Westerdahl
Publishing year: 2011
Language: English
Pages: 1232-1240
Publication/Series: Journal of evolutionary biology
Volume: 24
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons

Abstract english

Patterns of selection acting on immune defence genes have recently been the focus of considerable interest. Yet, when it comes to vertebrates, studies have mainly focused on the acquired branch of the immune system. Consequently, the direction and strength of selection acting on genes of the vertebrate innate immune defence remain poorly understood. Here, we present a molecular analysis of selection on an important receptor of the innate immune system of vertebrates, the Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2), across 17 rodent species. Although purifying selection was the prevalent evolutionary force acting on most parts of the rodent TLR2, we found that codons in close proximity to pathogen-binding and TLR2-TLR1 heterodimerization sites have been subject to positive selection. This indicates that parasite-mediated selection is not restricted to acquired immune system genes like the major histocompatibility complex, but also affects innate defence genes. To obtain a comprehensive understanding of evolutionary processes in host-parasite systems, both innate and acquired immunity thus need to be considered.


  • Biological Sciences
  • arms race
  • coevolution
  • disease ecology
  • host–parasite interactions
  • innate immunity
  • parasite-mediated selection
  • rodents
  • Toll-like receptor 2


  • Borrelia in rodents
  • Molecular Ecology and Evolution Lab
  • ISSN: 1420-9101
Helena Westerdahl
E-mail: helena [dot] westerdahl [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Senior lecturer


+46 46 222 36 69



Research group

Molecular Ecology and Evolution Lab


Doctoral students and postdocs

Research fellows


Luz Garcia-Longoria

PhD students, main supervisor

Samantha Mellinger

PhD students, assistant supervisor

Gustaf Ekelund Ugge

Helena Westerdahl w house sparrow