The neurohypophysial hormone arginine vasopressin (AVP) plays important roles in fluid regulation and vascular resistance. Differences in AVP receptor expression, particularly mediated through variation in the noncoding promoter region of the primary receptor for AVP (AVPR1a), may play a role in social phenotypes, particularly social monogamy, in rodents and humans. Among primates, social monogamy is rare, but is common among New World monkeys (NWM). AVP is a nonapeptide and generally conserved among eutherian mammals, although a recent paper demonstrated that some NWM species possess a novel form of the related neuropeptide hormone, oxytocin. We therefore characterized variation in the AVP and AVPR1a genes in 22 species representing every genus in the three major platyrrhine families (Cebidae, Atelidae and Pitheciidae). For AVP, a total of 16 synonymous substitutions were detected in 15 NWM species. No non-synonymous substitutions were noted, hence, AVP is conserved in NWM. By contrast, relative to the human AVPR1a, 66 predicted amino acids (AA) substitutions were identified in NWM. The AVPR1a N-terminus (ligand binding domain), third intracellular (Gprotein binding domain), and C-terminus were variable among species. Complex evolution of AVPR1a is also apparent in NWM. A molecular phylogenetic tree inferred from AVPR1a coding sequences revealed some consensus taxonomic separation by families, but also a mixed group composed of genera from all three families. The overall dN/dS ratio of AVPR1a was 0.11, but signals of positive selection in distinct AVPR1a regions were observed, including the N-terminus, in which we identified six potential positive selection sites. AA substitutions at positions 241, 319, 399 and 409 occurred uniquely in marmosets and tamarins. Our results enhance the appreciation of genetic diversity in the mammalian AVP/AVPR1a system, and set the stage for molecular modeling of the neurohypophyseal hormones and social behavior in primates.
Ren, Dongren; Chin, Kelvin R.; and French, Jeffrey, "Molecular Variation in AVP and AVPR1a in New World Monkeys (Primates, Platyrrhini): Evolution and Implications for Social Monogamy" (2014). Biology Faculty Publications. 69.
Funded by the University of Nebraska at Omaha Open Access Fund