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Epigenetic DNA Methylation Linked to Social Dominance [Plos One]

Subject Areas : DNA methylation, animal behavior, animal sociality, epigenetics, gene expression, neurons, gene regulation, vertebrates

par Frédéric Magné - publié le

Social status hierarchies are ubiquitous in vertebrate social systems, including humans. It is well known that social rank can influence quality of life dramatically among members of social groups. For example, high-ranking individuals have greater access to resources, including food and mating prerogatives that, in turn, have a positive impact on their reproductive success and health. In contrast low ranking individuals typically have limited reproductive success and may experience lasting social and physiological costs. Ultimately, social rank and behavior are regulated by changes in gene expression. However, little is known about mechanisms that transduce social cues into transcriptional changes. Since social behavior is a dynamic process, we hypothesized that a molecular mechanism such as DNA methylation might play a role these changes. To test this hypothesis, we used an African cichlid fish, Astatotilapia burtoni, in which social rank dictates reproductive access.(...)

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