The geographic distribution of monoamine oxidase haplotypes supports a bottleneck during the dispersion of modern humans from Africa

J Mol Evol. 2001 Feb;52(2):157-63. doi: 10.1007/s002390010144.


Every genetic locus mingles the information about the evolutionary history of the human species with the history of its own evolution. Therefore, to address the question of the origin of humans from a genetic point of view, evolutionary histories from many genetic loci have to be gathered and compared. We have studied two genes residing on the X chromosome encoding monoamine oxidases A and B (MAOA and MAOB). Both genes have been suggested to play a role in psychiatric and/or behavioral traits. To search for DNA variants of the MAO genes, the sequences of exonic and flanking intronic regions of these two genes were determined in a group of Swedish males. The sequence analysis revealed several novel polymorphisms in the MAO genes. Haplotypes containing high-frequency MAOA polymorphisms were constructed, and their frequencies were determined in additional samples from Caucasian, Asian, and African populations. We found two common haplotypes with similar frequencies in Caucasian and Asian populations. However, only one of them was also the most frequent haplotype in Africans, while the other haplotype was present in only one Kenyan male. This profound change in haplotype frequencies from Africans to non-Africans supports a possible bottleneck during the dispersion of modern humans from Africa.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency / genetics*
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Gorilla gorilla / genetics
  • Haplotypes / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Monoamine Oxidase / genetics*
  • Pan troglodytes / genetics
  • Polymorphism, Genetic / genetics*
  • X Chromosome / genetics


  • Monoamine Oxidase