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Health

AVPR1A correlated with fidelity?

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanSeptember 2, 2008 9:46 PM

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Over the years I've blogged a fair amount on the AVPR1A gene. Variation on this locus has been associated with differences altruism in humans and mating preferences in voles. Now a new paper is out in PNAS, at some point in the near future (not online, but will be here), which shows differences in martial behavior based on AVPR1A. From Study Links Gene Variant in Men to Marital Discord:

About 40 percent of men have one or two copies of the allele. Walum, a PhD student, said that men with two copies of the allele had a greater risk of marital discord than men with one copy, and that men with one copy of the allele were at more risk of such discord than men with no copies. The study asked men in married or long-term relationships whether they had experienced relationship crises in the past year that were of such intensity that they considered divorce or splitting. The scientists also asked the wives and partners of the men what it was like to live with them, examining levels of affection, cohesion, consensus and satisfaction. About 15 percent of the men without the allele reported serious marital discord in the past year, compared with 34 percent of men with two copies of the allele. Wives and partners of the men with two copies of the allele reported lower levels of satisfaction, affection, cohesion and consensus in the relationship than women married to men who had one or no copies of the allele. Seventeen percent of the men without the allele were living with women without being married to them, compared with 32 percent of men with two alleles doing so. ... Geert J. de Vries, a neuroscientist at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst who studies vasopressin, hailed the new study and said it dovetails with work he and others have conducted that show vasopressin seems to play a much larger role in the brains of men rather than women. Beyond the immediate study on monogamy -- vasopressin seems to change how men, not women, behave in long-term relationships -- De Vries said there could be intriguing links between the Stockholm study and research into the causes of disorders such as autism.

So again, another indication that personality morphs might be controlled by genes of large effect. Not surprisingly it is suggested that AVPR1A has global implications, it is embedded in a G Matrix not doubt. It is notable that AVPR1A seems to have similar effects in both voles and humans, two very distant lineages among mammals. But, remember the reuse of Opsins for vision. There are some priors which suggest that particular genes will reemerge as important variables independently across many lineages. Convergences between voles and humans in terms of our mating behaviors might naturally result in the importance of AVPR1A as an independent variable which can be used to track variation. Finally, I think it is likely that the variation we see in AVPR1A is probably frequency dependent in terms of its dynamics; there is a stable equilibrium ratio in any given environment for the various alleles. H/T Accidental Blogger. Related:Not Exactly Rocket Science.

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