Rare Human Disease (Williams-Beuren Syndrome) May Help Explain Why Dogs Are So Friendly; Study Suggests Dogs Evolved from Wolves Due to Gene-Based Affinity to Associate with Humans

Dogs' ability to communicate and interact with humans is one the most astonishing differences between them and their wild cousins, wolves. A new study published online on July 19, 2017 in the journal Science Advances identifies genetic changes that are linked to dogs' human-directed social behaviors and suggests there is a common underlying genetic basis for hyper-social behavior in both dogs and humans. The open-access article is titled “Structural Variants in Genes Associated with Human Williams-Beuren Syndrome Underlie Stereotypical Hyper-Sociability in Domestic Dogs." In the study, an interdisciplinary team of researchers, including ones from Princeton University, sequenced a region of chromosome 6 in dogs and found multiple sections of canine DNA that were associated with differences in social behavior. In many cases, unique genetic insertions called transposons on the Williams-Beuren syndrome critical region (WBSCR) were strongly associated with the tendency to seek out humans for physical contact, assistance and information. In contrast, in humans, it is the deletion of genes from the counterpart of this region on the human genome, rather than insertions, that causes Williams-Beuren syndrome, a congenital disorder characterized by hyper-social traits such as exceptional gregariousness.
Login Or Register To Read Full Story