Dog-human bonding: Genetic mutations for Williams syndrome may explain canine friendliness

| | July 24, 2017
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Using clues from humans with a genetic disorder that makes them unusually friendly, [researchers Monique Udell and Bridgett vonHoldt] found variations in several genes that make dogs more affable than wolves and some dogs friendlier than others.

The researchers [..] turned to humans with Williams-Beuren syndrome, a developmental disorder that leads to mental disability and an “elfin” appearance, but also often makes a person very trusting and friendly. The syndrome results from the loss of part of chromosome 7. VonHoldt focused on this stretch of DNA because she previously had found that this region, which is on dog chromosome 6, seemed to have been important in canine evolution.

People with Williams-Beuren also show great variation in this region, and the variation is thought to affect the severity of the disease and people’s personalities. The same seems true in the wolves and dogs.

Disruption on a gene for a protein called GIF21, which regulates the activity of other genes, was associated with the most social dogs. A relative lack of changes in that gene seems to lead to aloof, wolflike behavior.

[The original study can be found here]

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: What makes dogs so friendly? Study finds genetic link to super outgoing people

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