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Rodent Social Behavior Encoded in Junk DNA

 
  June, 16 2005 19:11
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A discovery that may someday help to explain human social behavior and disorders such as autism has been made in a species of pudgy rodents by researchers funded, in part, by the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and National Center for Research Resources (NCRR).

The researchers traced social behavior traits, such as monogamy, to seeming glitches in DNA that determines when and where a gene turns on. The length of these repeating sequences — once dismissed as mere junk DNA — in the gene that codes for a key hormone receptor determined male-female relations and parenting behaviors in a species of voles. Drs. Larry Young and Elizabeth Hammock, Emory University, report on their findings in the mouse-like animals native to the American Midwest in the June 10, 2005 Science.


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