Monoamine oxidase: from genes to behavior

Annu Rev Neurosci. 1999;22:197-217. doi: 10.1146/annurev.neuro.22.1.197.


Cloning of MAO (monoamine oxidase) A and B has demonstrated unequivocally that these enzymes are made up of different polypeptides, and our understanding of MAO structure, regulation, and function has been significantly advanced by studies using their cDNA. MAO A and B genes are located on the X-chromosome (Xp11.23) and comprise 15 exons with identical intron-exon organization, which suggests that they are derived from the same ancestral gene. MAO A and B knock-out mice exhibit distinct differences in neurotransmitter metabolism and behavior. MAO A knock-out mice have elevated brain levels of serotonin, norephinephrine, and dopamine and manifest aggressive behavior similar to human males with a deletion of MAO A. In contrast, MAO B knock-out mice do not exhibit aggression and only levels of phenylethylamine are increased. Mice lacking MAO B are resistant to the Parkinsongenic neurotoxin, 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetra-hydropyridine. Both MAO A and B knock-out mice show increased reactivity to stress. These knock-out mice are valuable models for investigating the role of monoamines in psychoses and neurodegenerative and stress-related disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / enzymology
  • Animals
  • Behavior / physiology*
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout / metabolism
  • Monoamine Oxidase / deficiency
  • Monoamine Oxidase / genetics*
  • Monoamine Oxidase / physiology*
  • Parkinson Disease / enzymology
  • Smoking
  • Stress, Physiological / enzymology


  • Monoamine Oxidase