Abstract # 123:

Scheduled for Friday, August 19, 2005 11:25 AM-11:45 AM: Session 9 (Crystal Ballroom) Oral Presentation

Gene-environment interactions and personality differences in rhesus monkeys and other macaques

S. J. Suomi
NICHD, Laboratory of ComparativeEthology,NICHD, Bethesda, MD 20892-7971, USA
     Recent research has identified functionally equivalent polymorphisms in specific genes carried by both humans and rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) that appear to interact with specific early experiences in influencing a wide range of biological and behavioral functions associated with differences in personality. Specifically, a “short” allele of the serotonin transporter (5-HTT) gene is associated with increased risk for depression in humans and delayed early neurobiological development, impaired serotonergic functioning, and excessive aggression and alcohol consumption in rhesus monkeys but only among individuals with aberrant early experiences (e.g., a history of child abuse in humans and early peer-only rearing in rhesus monkeys). Similar gene-environment interactions involving a polymorphism in the MAO-A gene and individual differences in aggressiveness have also been demonstrated in both humans and rhesus monkeys. Additional genetic studies have identified several other “candidate” genes for which functionally equivalent polymorphisms have been identified in both humans and rhesus monkeys. However, genetic analyses of several other macaque species have revealed that although all of these species possess each of these candidate genes, they do not have any of the functional polymorphisms found in humans and rhesus monkeys, i.e., in each case there is no within-species genetic variability for any of these genes. This research was supported by funds from the Division of Intramural Research, NICHD.