Chimpanzee sociability is associated with vasopressin (Avpr1a) but not oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) variation
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences . Biomedical Sciences
Hormones and behavior. - New York
, p. 84-90
University of Antwerp
The importance of genes in regulating phenotypic variation of personality traits in humans and animals is becoming increasingly apparent in recent studies. Here we focus on variation in the vasopressin receptor gene la (Avpr1a) and oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) and their effects on social personality traits in chimpanzees. We combine newly available genetic data on Avpr1a and OXTR allelic variation of 62 captive chimpanzees with individual variation in personality, based on behavioral assessments. Our study provides support for the positive association of the Avpr1a promoter region, in particular the presence of DupB, and sociability in chimpanzees. This complements findings of previous studies on adolescent chimpanzees and studies that assessed personality using questionnaire data. In contrast, no significant associations were found for the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) ss1388116472 of the OXTR and any of the personality components. Most importantly, our study provides additional evidence for the regulatory function of the 5' promoter region of Avpr1a on social behavior and its evolutionary stable effect across species, including rodents, chimpanzees and humans. Although it is generally accepted that complex social behavior is regulated by a combination of genes, the environment and their interaction, our findings highlight the importance of candidate genes with large effects on behavioral variation. (C) 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.