It’s possible that the same genetic mutations that cause sociability in dogs also cause it in people with williams burns syndrome.
There aren’t many people who are as friendly as the average dog. But people with Williams syndrome may come close because their strange genes give them a puppy-like desire to make friends. Now, scientists have found that both species may have genetic roots that make them very friendly.
Williams-Beuren syndrome, commonly referred to as Williams syndrome, is a condition with a section of DNA missing roughly 27 genes. About 1 in 10,000 people have this syndrome, which has specific mental and physical traits, such as bubbly, outgoing personalities, a wide forehead, full cheeks, heart defects, intellectual disability, and a love of music.
In 2010, when evolutionary researcher Bridgett vonHoldt and her colleagues looked at DNA from 225 wolves and 912 dogs from 85 breeds, they discovered the first indication of a connection between dogs and Williams syndrome. The result was published in Nature, a well-known science journal. They were looking for regions of the genome that had undergone selection since dogs and wolves split apart.
One gene that stood out was WBSCR17, which suggests that it or genes close to it were important in the evolution of dogs. Both dogs and people have this part of their genomes, and the human version of WBSCR17 is close to the sequence that is missing in people with Williams syndrome.
In the latest research, vonHoldt and her coworkers closely examined the area around WBSCR17. First, they tested how friendly 18 dogs and 10 wolves were. All of these animals were raised with regular care from people. They kept track of how long each dog or wolf spent within 1 meter of a person and how hard each animal worked to solve a puzzle box.
As predicted, wolves avoided human contact as much as possible, and the majority of them put just as much effort into unlocking their puzzle box whether or not a human was nearby. Dogs, on the other hand, usually focused on the person rather than the puzzle box and only did so when left alone.
On the whole, dogs were friendlier than wolves, although there were some wolves who were friendlier and some dogs who were more aloof. The WBSCR17 gene and two additional genes from the canine equivalent of the Williams syndrome region were associated with the behavioral abnormalities when the researchers studied the DNA from 16 of the dogs and 8 of the wolves.
These three genes appeared to have an unexpectedly significant role in regulating social behavior, despite the fact that hundreds or thousands of genes are likely responsible for shaping personality traits like friendliness.
The researchers discovered comparable patterns of genetic variation across breeds typically associated with friendly behavior and breeds generally thought to be more standoffish when they looked at those same three genes in 201 dogs from 13 breeds.
Same genes in various species
Prior research has connected two of the genes, GTF2I and GTF2IRD1, to social behavior in mice and Williams syndrome patients. Uta Francke and her colleagues at Stanford University in California discovered in 2009 that mice lacking the two genes exhibited an exceptional propensity for socializing.
However, it was still too early to determine the precise role the genes discovered in the study played in dog domestication. It’s plausible that they played a crucial role not just for dogs but for other animals as well. Testing other domestic species to discover if the same three genes may contribute to docile temperaments in everything from cats to goats, according to Driscoll, is the next step.
The sole trait all domesticates have in common is that they are gregarious and get along with other people. This clearly implies that these genes and this area were crucial in domestication.