Sunday, July 02, 2006

Genes that regulate risk taking, addiction, obesity, sexual desire and orientation....

It is hard to ignore increasing evidence that significant personality variations can be inherited. We are not (to use the title of Steven Pinker's 2002 book) "blank slates."

An article by Amy Harmon in the June 15 N.Y.Times provides a nice table summary of a few of the genes known to influence behavior in humans and other animals:

INSIG2 - Obesity - A common gene variant that is associated with significantly increased risk of becoming fat among the more than 25 million Americans who carry it. Herbert et al. (2006) "A Common Genetic Variant Associated with Adult and Childhood Obesity". Science 312:279-283.

neuroD2 - Risk-taking - Mice lacking neuroD2 have a greatly reduced sense of fear. Variants of the human version of this gene may lead to risk-taking behaviors. Lin et al. "The dosage of neuroD2 transcription factor regulates amygdala development and emotional learning" Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 41:14877-14882

CYP2A6 - Nicotine Addiction - People with certain forms of this gene smoke more and are more likely to become addicted to cigarettes. Tailoring treatments based on which form of CYP2A6 a person has may help him or her quit. Minematsu et al. (2006) "Limitation of cigarette consumption by CYP2A6*4, *7 and *9 polymorphisms" European Respiratory Journal 27:289-292. Malaiyandi et al. (2006) "Impact of CYP2A6 genotype on pretreatment smoking behavioral and nicotine levels and usage of nicotine replacement therapy". Molecular Psychiatry (2006): 400–409.

AVPR1a and SLC6A4 - Dance talent - Variants of these genes are correlated with creative dance performance. Bachner-Melman et al. "AVPR1a and SLC6A4 Gene Polymorphisms Are Associated with Creative Dance Performance". PLoS Genetics 1(3): e42

DRD2 - Anorexia - Variants of this receptor for the neurotransmitter dopamine have been preliminarily linked to the risk of developing anorexia. Bergen et al. (2005) "Association of Multiple DRD2 Polymorphisms with Anorexia Nervosa" Neuropsychopharmacology 30, 1703-1710.

DRD4 - Sexual desire - Another dopamine receptor gene that is linked in this study with sexual desire and performance. Zion et al. (2006) "Polymorphisms in the dopamine D4 receptor gene (DRD4) contribute to individual differences in human sexual behavior: desire, arousal and sexual function". Molecular Psychiatry (published online ahead of print)

fruitless - Sexual orientation - Male and female fruit flies make different forms of this gene. Males carrying the female gene do not court females. Females carrying the male gene are attracted to other females. Demir and Dickson (2005). "fruitless Splicing Specifies Male Courtship Behavior in Drosophila" Cell 121:785-794.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:50 PM

    People with certain forms of this gene smoke more and are more likely to become addicted to cigarettes.
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