High variability and non-neutral evolution of the mammalian avpr1a gene

Fink, Sabine; Excoffier, Laurent; Heckel, Gerhard (2007). High variability and non-neutral evolution of the mammalian avpr1a gene. BMC evolutionary biology, 7(1), p. 176. London: BioMed Central 10.1186/1471-2148-7-176

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BACKGROUND: The arginine-vasopressin 1a receptor has been identified as a key determinant for social behaviour in Microtus voles, humans and other mammals. Nevertheless, the genetic bases of complex phenotypic traits like differences in social and mating behaviour among species and individuals remain largely unknown. Contrary to previous studies focusing on differences in the promotor region of the gene, we investigate here the level of functional variation in the coding region (exon 1) of this locus. RESULTS: We detected high sequence diversity between higher mammalian taxa as well as between species of the genus Microtus. This includes length variation and radical amino acid changes, as well as the presence of distinct protein variants within individuals. Additionally, negative selection prevails on most parts of the first exon of the arginine-vasopressin receptor 1a (avpr1a) gene but it contains regions with higher rates of change that harbour positively selected sites. Synonymous and non-synonymous substitution rates in the avpr1a gene are not exceptional compared to other genes, but they exceed those found in related hormone receptors with similar functions. DISCUSSION: These results stress the importance of considering variation in the coding sequence of avpr1a in regards to associations with life history traits (e.g. social behaviour, mating system, habitat requirements) of voles, other mammals and humans in particular.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Population Genetics

UniBE Contributor:

Excoffier, Laurent




BioMed Central




Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:58

Last Modified:

08 Jun 2016 10:43

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Web of Science ID:





https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/24783 (FactScience: 52944)

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