Polymorphism of the 3′-UTR of the dopamine transporter gene (DAT) in New World monkeys

Marco Lucarelli, Elisabetta Visalberghi, Walter Adriani, Elsa Addessi, Silvia Pierandrei, Arianna Manciocco, Francesca Zoratto, Andrea Tamellini, Augusto Vitale, Giovanni Laviola, Jessica Lynch Alfaro, Esterina Pascale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Genetic polymorphism in the 3′-untranslated region (3′-UTR) of the dopamine transporter (DAT) gene has been reported in both human and nonhuman primates, and the variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR) polymorphism has been related to several neurological and psychiatric disorders. As New World primates have been employed as models in biomedical research in these fields, in the present study we assessed genetic variation in the DAT gene in 25 robust capuchin monkeys (Sapajus spp.) and 39 common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus). Using enzymatic amplification followed by sequencing of amplified fragments, a VNTR polymorphism in the 3′-UTR region of the DAT gene was identified in both robust capuchins and common marmosets. The polymorphic tandem repeat of 40-bp basic units is similar to the human VNTR consensus sequence, with size variants composed of 9, 10, and 11 units in marmosets and 8, 9, 13, and 17 basic units in capuchins. We found behavioral evidence that carrying the 10-repeat DAT allele promotes flexible choice and maximization of foraging in marmosets tested in an operant choice paradigm. Moreover, in an intertemporal choice task, capuchins with longer repeat variants show less self-controlled choices than capuchins with at least one short repeat variant. Future research should focus on the relationship between these DAT polymorphisms, dopamine reuptake via the dopamine transporter, and behavioral and cognitive variation across New World monkey individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-178
Number of pages10
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Callithrix jacchus
  • Common marmoset
  • Dopamine transporter gene
  • Gene polymorphism
  • New World primates
  • Platyrrhini
  • Robust capuchin monkeys
  • Sapajus spp

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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