Looking for a mate who will be a sensitive parent? Look for one who likes looking at baby pictures

Well now, this post certainly states the obvious. But we’re suckers for papers about oxytocin receptor allelic varient rs53576GG because that’s the one WE have and we’re always trying to validate our existence.

The GG oxytocin receptor allele is correlated with a variety of pro-social behaviors, mostly in the ways you might guess if one is hyper efficient at using oxytocin — super sensitive to the feelings of others, high empathy, and also being a sensitive parent. Sounds good, right? Who wouldn’t like to be BFF’s with a GG? Better than those depressive, ice water veined AA variants.

But, how can you tell who is a GG? As we previously posted,  according to a report out of UCLA, people can tell you have a prosocial-form of the oxytocin receptor gene after observing you for 20 seconds.

And now here is another way to tell:   another report correlates this allelic variant with liking to look at baby faces.

The paper was originally published in July:

Marsh AA, Yu HH, Pine DS, Gorodetsky EK, Goldman D, Blair RJ. The influence of oxytocin administration on responses to infant faces and potential moderation by OXTR genotype. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2012 Dec;224(4):469-76. doi:
10.1007/s00213-012-2775-0. Epub 2012 Jul 5. PubMed PMID: 22763666; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3500580(available 12.31.12).

So, because normally you can’t do a spit test when you originally meet someone at the Elks Club bar, showing them a photo of a baby face and seeing their response, and watching if they lean in to listen to others may be a proxy for a genetic screen.

As an aside, for 3-d structure wonks (and here’s the structure of oxytocin), how would you make a super-oxytocin that bound tightly to the A-allele version of the oxytocin receptor? The oxytocin receptor is a G-coupled protein receptor with 7 (I think) transmembrane domains. Does the “A” version block one of the transmembrane domains? Would adding a little piece of  something hydrophobic to an oxytocin protein molecule help it sticking to the A-version better?