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Science. 2005 Jun 10;308(5728):1630-4.

Microsatellite instability generates diversity in brain and sociobehavioral traits.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA.


Repetitive microsatellites mutate at relatively high rates and may contribute to the rapid evolution of species-typical traits. We show that individual alleles of a repetitive polymorphic microsatellite in the 5' region of the prairie vole vasopressin 1a receptor (avpr1a) gene modify gene expression in vitro. In vivo, we observe that this regulatory polymorphism predicts both individual differences in receptor distribution patterns and socio-behavioral traits. These data suggest that individual differences in gene expression patterns may be conferred via polymorphic microsatellites in the cis-regulatory regions of genes and may contribute to normal variation in behavioral traits.

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