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Genomic responses to selection for tame/aggressive behaviors in the silver fox (Vulpes vulpes)


Wang, Xu
Pipes, Lenore
Trut, Lyudmila N.
Herbeck, Yury
Vladimirova, Anastasiya V.
Gulevich, Rimma G.
Kharlamova, Anastasiya V.
Johnson, Jennifer L.
Acland, Gregory M.
Kukekova, Anna V.
Clark, Andrew G.


Animal domestication efforts have led to a shared spectrum of striking behavioral and morphological changes. To recapitulate this process, silver foxes have been selectively bred for tame and aggressive behaviors for more than 50 generations at the Institute for Cytology and Genetics in Novosibirsk, Russia. To understand the genetic basis and molecular mechanisms underlying the phenotypic changes, we profiled gene expression levels and coding SNP allele frequencies in two brain tissue specimens from 12 aggressive foxes and 12 tame foxes. Expression analysis revealed 146 genes in the prefrontal cortex and 33 genes in the basal forebrain that were differentially expressed, with a 5% false discovery rate (FDR). These candidates include genes in key pathways known to be critical to neurologic processing, including the serotonin and glutamate receptor pathways. In addition, 295 of the 31,000 exonic SNPs show significant allele frequency differences between the tame and aggressive populations (1% FDR), including genes with a role in neural crest cell fate determination.