Abstract # 165:

Scheduled for Sunday, August 27, 2017 09:15 AM-09:30 AM: (Grand Ballroom) Oral Presentation


FOXP2 VARIATION IN WILD GREAT APE POPULATIONS OFFERS POTENTIAL INSIGHTS INTO VARIATION IN COMMUNICATION

N. Staes1, C. C. Sherwood1, K. M. Wright2, M. D. Montero3, J. J. Ely4,5, W. D. Hopkins6,7 and B. J. Bradley1
1Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology, Department of Anthropology, The George Washington University, Washington , DC 20052, USA, 2Department of Chemistry, The George Washington University, 3 Institut de Biologia Evolutiva, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, 4MAEBIOS, 5UTMD Anderson ME Keeling Center for Comparative Medicine, 6Neuroscience Institute and Language Research Center, Georgia State University, 7Division of Developmental and Cognitive Neuroscience, Yerkes National Primate Research Center
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     The gene coding for forkhead box protein P2 (FOXP2) is the first gene discovered to be associated with human language disorders and fine control language production. Its evolution is hypothesized as an important factor in the origins of human speech and language. The protein coding sequence is highly conserved across mammals, with some notable exceptions, particularly in echolocating bats. Humans differ in only two functional amino acid substitutions from chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas, with an additional fixed substitution found in orangutans. However, no study to date has examined the degree of natural polymorphism in great apes. Here we analyzed DNA sequence data from 63 chimpanzees, 11 bonobos, 48 gorillas and 37 orangutans. Results confirm previously reported between-species differences in functional coding sequence between humans and great apes. However, inspection of within-species coding sequence reveals length variation in chimpanzees in two polyglutamine tracts. Additionally, two nonsynonymous SNPs were found. In gorillas, a G/T SNP in exon 7 leads to an Alanine to Serine substitution. In orangutans, a C/A SNP in exon 16 leads to a Proline to Threonine substitution, and is likely functional. Genotype frequencies were in Hardy Weinberg equilibrium (X2=2.20, df=1, p=0.138). The latter SNP is found only in Sumatran orangutans and may be associated with reported orangutan population differences in vocal repertoire and peak frequency.