DOI: 10.1101/460584Nov 4, 2018Paper

Oxytocin and Vasopressin Receptor variants as a window onto the evolution of human prosociality

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Constantina TheofanopoulouCedric Boeckx


Modern humans' lifestyle strongly depends on complex social skills like empathy, tolerance and cooperation. Variation in the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) and the arginine-vasopressin receptors (AVPR1A, AVPR1B genes) has been widely associated with diverse facets of social cognition, but the extent to which these variants may have contributed to the evolution of human prosociality remains to be elucidated. In this study, we compared the OXTR, AVPR1A and AVPR1B DNA sequences of modern humans to those of our closest extinct and extant relatives, and then clustered the variants we identified based on their distribution in the species studied. This clustering, along with the functional importance retrieved for each variant and their frequency in different modern-human populations, is then used to determine if any of the OXTR, AVPR1A and AVPR1B-variants might have had an impact at different evolutionary stages. We report a total of 29 SNPs, associated with phenotypic effects ranging from clearly pro-social to mixed or antisocial. Regarding modern human-specific alleles that could correlate with a shift towards prosociality in modern-humans, we highlight one allele in AVPR1A (rs11174811), found at high frequency and linked to prosocial ph...Continue Reading

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