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Open Access Research article

Genetic variation in the odorant receptors family 13 and the mhc loci influence mate selection in a multiple sclerosis dataset

Pouya Khankhanian, Pierre-Antoine Gourraud, Stacy J Caillier, Adam Santaniello, Stephen L Hauser, Sergio E Baranzini and Jorge R Oksenberg*

Author Affiliations

Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143-0435, USA

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BMC Genomics 2010, 11:626  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-626

Published: 10 November 2010

Abstract

Background

When selecting mates, many vertebrate species seek partners with major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes different from their own, presumably in response to selective pressure against inbreeding and towards MHC diversity. Attempts at replication of these genetic results in human studies, however, have reached conflicting conclusions.

Results

Using a multi-analytical strategy, we report validated genome-wide relationships between genetic identity and human mate choice in 930 couples of European ancestry. We found significant similarity between spouses in the MHC at class I region in chromosome 6p21, and at the odorant receptor family 13 locus in chromosome 9. Conversely, there was significant dissimilarity in the MHC class II region, near the HLA-DQA1 and -DQB1 genes. We also found that genomic regions with significant similarity between spouses show excessive homozygosity in the general population (assessed in the HapMap CEU dataset). Conversely, loci that were significantly dissimilar among spouses were more likely to show excessive heterozygosity in the general population.

Conclusions

This study highlights complex patterns of genomic identity among partners in unrelated couples, consistent with a multi-faceted role for genetic factors in mate choice behavior in human populations.