Personal Genomes

What’s the Distribution of Oxytocin Alleles in the General Population?


In my previous post I commented on my family’s alleles for the rs53576 SNP of the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene. A GG allele seems to be associated to a more pro-social character. A follow up question would be “what would its distribution be for the general population”. Luckily, a few colleagues of mine and myself have compiled a database of n=52 23andMe genotypes from the public domain. While the number of individuals contained in the database is small and of predominantly European ethnic background, I still can get an approximate view of what the frequency would be for these alleles. I found the following distribution:

  • AA: 6 (11.5%)
  • AG or GA: 18 (34.6%)
  • GG: 28 (53.8%)

If I was to speculate from this finding and assuming that the GG allele association is true, it would seem that being pro-social is quite dominant among Europeans. In fact when I look at the distribution of rs53576 alleles per populations in the 1000 genomes project, the above distribution looks quite similar to the proportions shown for the European (CEU) pie chart:

Frequencies of rs53576 in the 1000 genomes project. CEU: European; CHB+JPT: Han Chinese and Japanese; YRI: Yoruban (from Nigeria). More yellow apparently means more social.

Obviously the samples quite are small to make a final conclusion but I let readers judge by themselves what these results might mean.

I would like to thank Karyn Megy as she gave me the idea of querying the public domain 23andMe database.

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