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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Molecular aspects of monogamy.

Comparative studies of monogamous and nonmonogamous voles demonstrate species differences in the regional expression of oxytocin (OT) receptors in the brain. These species differences have not been observed with other neurotransmitter receptors (except vasopressin). Species differences for OT receptor distribution were also observed in other microtine and murine species selected as monogamous or promiscuous. These chemical neuroanatomic differences appear to be functionally relevant, as treatments with selective OT agonists and antagonists influence those behaviors that appear critical to pair bonding in the monogamous prairie vole. To investigate the mechanism controlling tissue-specific expression of OT receptors, we sequenced the OT receptor gene in both prairie voles and montane voles. The findings are inconclusive. Although both species differ markedly from rat and human in their regulatory (but not their coding) sequences, the species show very subtle differences from each other. Ongoing studies are investigating the consequences of these subtle differences between prairie and montane voles. At the same time, several transactivating factors that might influence OT receptor expression need to be explored. NOTE ADDED IN PROOF: The rat oxytocin receptor gene sequence, cited in FIGURES 4 and 5, was based on an error published in ref. 22. The corrected sequence has now been published (Rosen et al. 1996. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci USA 93: 12501). The correct sequence shows greater homology with the vole oxytocin receptor gene sequences, but the remaining differences support the argument made herein for species differences in regional receptor expression.[1]


  1. Molecular aspects of monogamy. Insel, T.R., Young, L., Wang, Z. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. (1997) [Pubmed]
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