Evolution in primates by “Catastrophic-selection” interplay between enveloped virus epidemics, mutated genes of enzymes synthesizing carbohydrate antigens, and natural anti-carbohydrate antibodies
"Catastrophic-selection" is an evolutionary mechanism, by which entire parental-populations are eliminated but very few mutated offspring survive and replace extinct parental-populations. The human natural anti-carbohydrate antibodies, anti-Gal and anti-Neu5Gc suggest the occurrence of catastrophic-selection events in primate evolution. Parental-populations synthesizing corresponding carbohydrate-antigens underwent extinction in viral epidemics, and few offspring survived. These offspring carried accidental mutations that inactivated carbohydrate-antigen synthesis and produced natural-antibody against the lost antigen. Such natural anti-carbohydrate antibody was produced against environmental carbohydrate-antigens (e.g., gastrointestinal bacteria). The carbohydrate-antigen in infected parental-populations was also synthesized on viruses by the host glycosylation-machinery. The natural-antibody in the offspring bound to the carbohydrate-antigen on infecting viruses produced in parental-populations, destroyed the viruses and protected these offspring from extinction. This process occurred in ancestral Old-World monkeys and apes synthesizing α-gal epitopes, which were replaced 20?30 million-years-ago by offspring lacking α-gal epitopes and producing natural anti-Gal antibody against this antigen, and later in hominins synthesizing the sialic-acid antigen Neu5Gc, which were replaced by offspring lacking Neu5Gc and producing anti-Neu5Gc antibody. A present-day example for accidental mutations in very few humans that lost a common carbohydrate-antigen and produce a natural antibody against it is the rare blood-group ?Bombay? individuals. These individuals lack the H-antigen (blood-group O) which is synthesized in all other humans, and produce the natural anti-H antibody against blood-group O. Overall, it is suggested that natural anti-carbohydrate antibodies played a critical role in preventing complete extinction of mammalian species in epidemics of highly virulent viruses and may have similar role in future events.