Monoamine oxidase polymorphisms in Japanese and rhesus macaques (Macaca fuscata and M. mulatta): Implications for the evolution of macaque behavioral diversity

Monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A) and monoamine oxidase B (MAO-B) are enzymes that degrade several monoamines of the central nervous system and have long been implicated in the modulation of social behavior. Macaque monkeys are a suitable model for investigating the role of functional monoamine oxidase polymorphisms in behavior modulation given the high amount of social diversity among the nearly two dozen species. The present study reports allele frequencies for two polymorphisms, MAOA-LPR and MBin2, in samples of rhesus (Macaca mulatta) and Japanese (M. fuscata) macaques. Our results suggest that the two species may differ in high- and low-activity MAOA-LPR allele frequencies. Specifically, 89% of the Japanese macaque alleles in our sample were the low-activity variant, whereas only 41% of the rhesus macaque alleles were of this sort. In our samples, the two species possessed similar allelic variation at the MBin2 locus, with each possessing some species-specific alleles. We also tested for associations between MAOA-LPR genotype and plasma serotonin (5-HT) and dopamine (DA) concentrations in a subset of rhesus macaques, which revealed no association with genotype. Our findings point toward potential differences in the monoaminergic system of two closely related macaque species. Discussion of our results are centered on implications for future investigations that aim to better understand the functionality of monoamine oxidase polymorphisms in the context of primate social behavior.