Sher L, Greenberg BD, Murphy DL, Rosenthal NE, Sirota LA, Hamer DH.
Section on Biological Rhythms, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.
Psychiatr Genet. 2000 Sep;10(3):125-30.
Pleiotropy refers to the ability of a single gene to influence multiple traits. A polymorphism in the regulatory region of the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTTLPR) has previously been found to be associated both with the personality trait of neuroticism and with seasonal changes in mood and behavior, or seasonality. Hypothesizing that the contribution of the serotonin transporter gene to seasonality is specific, i.e. independent of neuroticism, we measured 5-HTTLPR genotypes and both psychological traits in 236 healthy volunteers.
The results indicated that the 5-HTTLPR contributions to variation in the two traits are largely independent; approximately three-quarters of the effect of the gene on seasonality are not related to its effects on neuroticism. Moreover, the gene has a larger effect on the covariation between neuroticism and seasonality than it does on either trait alone. Sibling-pair analysis confirmed that the effects of the 5-HTTLPR are due to genetic pleiotropy rather than population stratification.