The silver fox, a variant of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), is a close relative of the dog (Canis familiaris). Cytogenetic differences and similarities between these species are well understood, but their genomic organizations have not been compared at higher resolution. Differences in their behavior also remain unexplained. Two silver fox strains demonstrating markedly different behavior have been generated at the Institute of Cytology and Genetics of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Foxes selected for tameness are friendly, like domestic dogs, while foxes selected for aggression resist human contact. To refine our understanding of the comparative genomic organization of dogs and foxes, and enable a study of the genetic basis of behavior in these fox strains, we need a meiotic linkage map of the fox. Towards this goal we generated a primary set of fox microsatellite markers. Four hundred canine microsatellites, evenly distributed throughout the canine genome, have been identified that amplify robustly from fox DNA. Polymorphism information content (PIC) values were calculated for a representative subset of these markers and population inbreeding coefficients were determined for tame and aggressive foxes. To begin to identify fox-specific single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in genes involved in the neurobiology of behavior, fox and dog orthologs of serotonin 5-HT1A and 5-HT1B receptor genes have been cloned. Sequence comparison of these genes from tame and aggressive foxes reveal several SNPs. The close relationship of the fox and dog enables canine genomic tools to be utilized in developing a fox meiotic map and mapping behavioral traits in the fox.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology