William Beuren Syndrome People and Dogs Share Common Genetic Roots - Seeker's Thoughts

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William Beuren Syndrome People and Dogs Share Common Genetic Roots

When it comes about love, compassion, care, love and to sheer friendliness, few humans can match the average dog.

Scientists now have found the people with William syndrome may come close, their unusual genetics granting them a puppyish zeal for social interaction. Extreme friendliness in both species may share common genetic roots.

                    
What is William- Beuren Syndrome? 
The William Beuren Syndrome is a genetic condition that is present at birth and can affect anyone. It is characterized by medical problems, including cardiovascular disease, development delays, and learning challenges. These often occur side by side with striking verbal abilities, highly social personalities, and an affinity for music.



How does William- Beuren Syndrome Occur?

The William- Beuren Syndrome occurs when people are missing of a chunk of DNA containing about 27 genes. The syndrome affects about one in 10,000 people, and it is associated with a suite of mental and physical traits, including bubbly, extroverted personalities, a broad forehead, full cheeks, heart defects, intellectual disability.

Williams’s syndrome can cause in different parts of the body, such as the face heart and other organs it can also affect a child’s ability to learn.
Children with William syndrome have unique facial features that may include:
·         Wide forehead
·         Bridge of the nose is flattened
·         Short nose with a large tip
·         Wide mouth with full lips
·         Small chin
·         Small, widely spaced teeth
·         Missing or crooked teeth
·         Uneven eyes
·         Folds over the corners of the eyes
·         White starburst pattern around the iris, or colored part of the eye
·         Long face and neck (in adulthood


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Heart and blood vessels
The aorta, the main artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the bod, may be narrowed. The pulmonary arteries that carry blood from the heart to the lungs also be narrowed and high blood pressure is common.
Narrowed arteries don’t let as much oxygen-rich blood reach the heart and body. High blood pressure and decreased blood flow can damage the heart.

Growth problems
Babies born with Williams’s syndrome can be very small. They may have trouble eating, and might not gain weight or grow as quickly as other children. As adults, they are often shorter than most people.

                                 
So how is William Syndrome linked with dogs?
The first hint of link between dogs and Williams’s syndrome came in 2010, when evolutionary biologist Bridgett vonHoldt and her colleagues examined DNA from 225 wolves and 912 dogs from 85 breeds. They were looking for parts of the genome that have been shaped by selection since dogs diverged from wolves.
One gene that popped out WBSCR17, suggesting that it or other genes near it were important in dog’s evolution. This region of the genome is similar in dogs and humans, and the human version of WBSCR17 is located near the sequence that is deleted in people with Williams’s syndrome.

Dogs DNA
In the new study, vonHoldt, now an evolutionary biologist at Princeton University in New Jersey, and her colleagues took a closer look at the region surrounding WBSCR17. First, they tested the friendliness of 18 dogs and 10 wolves, all raised with regular attention from human caretakers. They measured how much time each dog or wolf spent within a 1-meter radius of a human, as well as how hard the animal worked to solve a puzzle box.
As expected, wolves spent less time near humans, and most worked equally hard to solve their puzzle box regardless of whether a human was present. In contrast, dogs tended to look at the human instead of the puzzle box, focusing on the puzzle only when left alone.


While dogs were more sociable than wolves on average, individuals varied, with some wolves acting more friendly and some dogs acting more aloof. When the researchers analyzed DNA from 16 of the dogs and eight of the wolves, the behavioral differences turned out to be correlated with variations in three genes -- the WBSCR17 gene highlighted in the 2010 study, and two additional genes from within the canine equivalent of the Williams syndrome region.
                                  
For each of these three genes, the researchers found multiple variants that differed in structural ways, such as whether or not they contained an extra sequence of DNA. Some gene variants were found mostly in the friendly dogs and wolves, while others were found more often in unfriendly animals.
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While personality traits like friendliness are probably shaped by hundreds or thousands of genes, these three genes appeared to play a surprisingly large role in controlling social behavior.
"Some of these structural variants could explain a huge shift in a behavioral profile -- which you go from being a wolf-like, aloof creature, to something that's obsessed with a human.
When the researchers examined those same three genes in 201 dogs from 13 breeds, they found similar patterns of genetic variation between breeds traditionally associated with friendly behavior, and breeds generally considered to be more standoffish.

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