Project Title

Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms in Autism-Related Genes in Bonobos

Academic department under which the project should be listed

CSM - Molecular and Cellular Biology

Faculty Sponsor Name

Martin L. Hudson

Abstract (300 words maximum)

The oxytocin receptor, arginine vasopression receptor 1A, and forkhead box protein 2 are all proteins that are closely linked to social behavior and language acquisition. Mutations in these genes are strongly correlated with autism or other sociolinguistic disabilities. There is existing research for these genes’ effect on social behavior individually, but there is little literature on these genes’ combined effect in autism spectrum disorder. The great apes are our closest living relatives and are a fascinating model to examine that evolution of socio-communicative behavior. Studying ASD-related genes in great ape populations could help to understand the evolutionary context of communication and their effect on behavior. Great apes have complex social structure and linguistic behaviors that have the potential to showcase clearly observable behavioral phenotypes in regard to ASD-related genes. This study aims to verify the presence of communication-related single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in bonobos. We have amplified target gene regions via polymerase chain reaction and used Sanger sequencing to identify the SNPs in question. In the course of this study, we also identified novel SNPs adjacent to these ASD-related loci. We will summarize our genotyping data to date and relate these data to known ancestry of the bonobo families in question. Our results will broaden our understanding of the evolution of language acquisition to better understand the origins of our own communication abilities.

Disciplines

Genetics | Genomics | Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience

Project Type

Poster

How will this be presented?

Yes, in person

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Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms in Autism-Related Genes in Bonobos

The oxytocin receptor, arginine vasopression receptor 1A, and forkhead box protein 2 are all proteins that are closely linked to social behavior and language acquisition. Mutations in these genes are strongly correlated with autism or other sociolinguistic disabilities. There is existing research for these genes’ effect on social behavior individually, but there is little literature on these genes’ combined effect in autism spectrum disorder. The great apes are our closest living relatives and are a fascinating model to examine that evolution of socio-communicative behavior. Studying ASD-related genes in great ape populations could help to understand the evolutionary context of communication and their effect on behavior. Great apes have complex social structure and linguistic behaviors that have the potential to showcase clearly observable behavioral phenotypes in regard to ASD-related genes. This study aims to verify the presence of communication-related single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in bonobos. We have amplified target gene regions via polymerase chain reaction and used Sanger sequencing to identify the SNPs in question. In the course of this study, we also identified novel SNPs adjacent to these ASD-related loci. We will summarize our genotyping data to date and relate these data to known ancestry of the bonobo families in question. Our results will broaden our understanding of the evolution of language acquisition to better understand the origins of our own communication abilities.

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