Vernersson, M., Aveskogh, M. Munday, B., and Hellman, L. (2002),  Eur. J. Immunol. 32 : 2145-2155.

Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Uppsala, The Biomedical Center, Uppsala, Sweden.


To trace the emergence of the modern post-switch immunoglobulin (Ig) isotypes in vertebrate evolution we have studied Ig expression in mammals distantly related to eutherians. We here present an analysis of the Ig expression in an egg-laying mammal, a monotreme, the duck-billed platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus). Fragments of platypus IgG and IgE cDNA were obtained by a PCR-based screening using degenerate primers. The fragments obtained were used as probes to isolate full-length cDNA clones of three platypus post-switch isotypes, IgG1, IgG2, and IgE. Comparative amino acid sequence analysis against IgY, IgE and IgG from various animal species revealed that platypus IgE and IgG form branches that are clearly separated from those of their eutherian (placental) counterparts. However, the platypus IgE and IgG still conform to the general structure displayed by the respective Ig isotypes of eutherian and marsupial mammals. According to our findings, all of the major evolutionary changes in the expression array and basic Ig structure that have occurred since the evolutionary separation of mammals from the early reptile lineages, occurred prior to the separation of monotremes from marsupial and placental mammals. Hence, our results indicate that the modern post-switch isotypes appeared very early in the mammalian lineage, possibly already 310-330 million years ago.