Oxytocin (OXT) is an important neuromodulator of social behaviors via activation of both oxytocin receptors (OXTR) and vasopressin (AVP) 1a receptors (AVPR1a). Marmosets are neotropical primates with a modified OXT ligand (Pro8-OXT), and this ligand shows significant coevolution with traits including social monogamy and litter size. Pro8-OXT produces more potent and efficacious responses at primate OXTR and stronger behavioral effects than the consensus mammalian OXT ligand (Leu8-OXT). Here, we tested whether OXT/AVP ligands show differential levels of crosstalk at primate AVPR1a. We measured binding affinities and Ca2+ signaling responses of AVP, Pro8-OXT and Leu8-OXT at human, macaque, and marmoset AVPR1a. We found that AVP binds with higher affinity than OXT across AVPR1a, and marmoset AVPR1a show a 10-fold lower OXT binding affinity compared to human and macaque AVPR1a. Both Leu8-OXT and Pro8-OXT produce a less efficacious response than AVP at human AVPR1a and higher efficacious response than AVP at marmoset AVPR1a. These data suggest that OXT might partially antagonize endogenous human AVPR1a signaling and enhance marmoset AVPR1a signaling. These findings aid in further understanding inconsistencies observed following systemic intranasal administration of OXT and provide important insights into taxon-specific differences in nonapeptide ligand/receptor coevolution and behavior.
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