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From wild wolf to domestic dog: gene expression changes in the brain
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Evolution, Genomics and Systematics, Evolutionary Biology. (Behavioral Genetics)
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Evolution, Genomics and Systematics, Evolutionary Biology. (Behavioral Genetics)
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2004 (English)In: Brain Research. Molecular Brain Research, ISSN 0169-328X, Vol. 126, no 2, 198-206 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Despite the relatively recent divergence time between domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) and gray wolves (Canis lupus), the two species show remarkable behavioral differences. Since dogs and wolves are nearly identical at the level of DNA sequence, we hypothesize that the two species may differ in patterns of gene expression.

We compare gene expression patterns in dogs, wolves and a close relative, the coyote (Canis latrans), in three parts of the brain: hypothalamus, amygdala and frontal cortex, with microarray technology. Additionally, we identify genes with region-specific expression patterns in all three species. Among the wild canids, the hypothalamus has a highly conserved expression profile. This contrasts with a marked divergence in domestic dogs. Real-time PCR experiments confirm the altered expression of two neuropeptides, CALCB and NPY. Our results suggest that strong selection on dogs for behavior during domestication may have resulted in modifications of mRNA expression patterns in a few hypothalamic genes with multiple functions. This study indicates that rapid changes in brain gene expression may not be exclusive to the development of human brains. Instead, they may provide a common mechanism for rapid adaptive changes during speciation, particularly in cases that present strong selective pressures on behavioral characters.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2004. Vol. 126, no 2, 198-206 p.
Keyword [en]
DNA microarrays, Gene expression variation, Domestication, Brain evolution, Speciation
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-96111DOI: 10.1016/j.molbrainres.2004.05.003PubMedID: 15249144OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-96111DiVA: diva2:170579
Available from: 2007-09-06 Created: 2007-09-06 Last updated: 2010-02-02Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Exploring Brain Gene Expression i Animal Models of Behaviour
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Exploring Brain Gene Expression i Animal Models of Behaviour
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The genetic basis for behavioural traits is largely unknown. The overall aim of this thesis was to find genes with importance for behavioural traits related to fear and anxiety. Microarray analysis was used to screen expression profiles of brain regions important for emotional behaviour in dogs, wolves, foxes and mice. In a first experiment, dogs and their wild ancestors the wolves were compared. Our results suggested that directed selection for behaviour might have resulted in expression changes in few genes acting on several brain functions, possibly affecting behaviour. However, the observed expressional differences were confounded with environmental effects. This was addressed in a second study on domesticated silver foxes. By correlating behaviour and brain gene expression in foxes selected for tameness to non-selected foxes raised in the same environment, we found large behavioural differences but only few genes with differential expression in the brain. Fifteen of the 40 genes showing evidence of expression difference were related to haem or haemoglobins. Further studies showed an additive genetic effect on brain gene expression, similar to the additive genetic inheritance of behaviour, indicating an involvement in domestication. Transcriptional profiling was also used for finding genes involved with the sleep disorder narcolepsy. Narcoleptic Doberman pinschers homozygous for the canarc-1 mutation were compared to their unaffected heterozygots revealing reduced expression of three genes, TAC1, PENK and SOCS2, with relevance to the narcoleptic phenotype. Finally gene expression was investigated in relation to anxiety-related traits in a mouse model. Surprisingly, as in the fox study, genes coding for haemoglobins indicated differential expression in the brain between animals with different anxiety levels. Our combined results suggest that genes like haemoglobins, best known for their function in oxygen transport in blood, may also participate in brain functions related to decreased anxiety in domestic animals.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2007. 46 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1651-6214 ; 329
Biology, behavioural genetics, gene expression, brain, microarray analysis, domestication, animal model, haem, Canis familiaris, Vulpes vulpes, Mus musculus, Biologi
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-8177 (URN)978-91-554-6948-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2007-09-27, Zootissalen, Zoologiska institutionen, EBC, Norbyvägen 16, Uppsala, 13:00
Available from: 2007-09-06 Created: 2007-09-06Bibliographically approved

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