Mammalian Cu-containing amine oxidases (CAOs): new methods of analysis, structural relationships, and possible functions

APMIS Suppl. 1999;96:1-46.


This thesis describes new and original experimental results on Cu-dependent amine oxidases (CAOs), which show that these enzymes can be conveniently and specifically detected in situ using a peroxidase-coupled activity staining method with 4-Cl-1-naphtole as hydrogen donor substrate. Even more sensitive in situ detection can be achieved using a chemiluminescence-based coupled peroxidase assay which was applied to show that human placenta CAO activity is confined to maternal vessels. A general purification scheme for CAOs is described, and applied to purification of different CAOs. Peptide maps and immunological crossreactivity studies with monoclonal antibodies raised against the purified enzymes showed that they were closely related. Amino acid sequence data for the bovine serum CAO showed that they form a separate group (E.C. with no homology to other enzymes. A cDNA sequence was obtained on the basis of the amino acid sequence data, and this was found to encode a bovine lung CAO, related to bovine serum CAO. The genes for bovine lung and bovine serum CAO are characterized, and Southern blotting analysis of bovine chromosomal DNA shows the existence of a least one more bovine CAO. The purification of human neutrophil CAO is attempted, but it is described how lactoferrin, a protein with many properties in common with CAOs, and with a low degree of sequence identity can account for many observations on human neutrophil CAO. The products of bovine serum CAO oxidation of polyamines are characterised, and 3-aminopropanal is found to be the principal aminoaldehyde produced. Finally, a polyamine-stimulated binding of human placenta CAO to single-stranded DNA is described, and it is reported that the DNA-bound CAO is enzymically active and that the oxidation of DNA-bound polyamines leads to degradation of DNA. In addition to the experimental results, the properties of polyamines and Cu-dependent amine oxidases are reviewed. The polyamines spermidine and spermine interact specifically with nucleic acids and several other molecules. They are synthesised from putrescine, which is a key regulatory molecule formed from ornithine by ornithine decarboxylase, a highly inducible and regulated enzyme. The polyamines can be converted to putrescine by CAOs or spermidine/spermine acetyltransferase and polyamine oxidase. Putrescine is degraded by CAOs, which are also involved in degradation of histamine, a mediator of inflammatory processes. CAOs catalyse the general reaction: R1CH2NHR2 + O2 + H2O-->R1CHO + R2NH2 + H2O2 and in addition to the catabolism of putrescine and histamine CAOs are involved in regulation of growth and apoptosis by to the generation of aminoaldehydes and hydrogen peroxide which have growth inhibitory properties. Several homologous CAOs have been purified and characterized and they form a family with two subgroups. They are homodimers with a relative molecular weight of 180,000 and contain Cu2+ and a modified tyrosine, topaquinone, in the active site. CAOs are present in most tissues with highest amounts in intestine, kidneys, liver and placenta, but the cellular distributions and functions of CAOs are still poorly described, partly due to the use of many different assays and partly due to a broad substrate specificity of the enzymes. However, polyamines and CAOs seem to form a universal system contributing to regulation of growth, differentiation, and apoptosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amine Oxidase (Copper-Containing) / analysis*
  • Amine Oxidase (Copper-Containing) / chemistry*
  • Amine Oxidase (Copper-Containing) / genetics
  • Amine Oxidase (Copper-Containing) / physiology
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Amine Oxidase (Copper-Containing)