Lack of barrels in the somatosensory cortex of monoamine oxidase A-deficient mice: role of a serotonin excess during the critical period

Neuron. 1996 Feb;16(2):297-307. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(00)80048-3.


In a transgenic mouse line (Tg8) deficient for the gene encoding monoamine oxidase A (MAOA), we show that the primary somatosensory cortex (S1) lacks the characteristic barrel-like clustering of layer IV neurons, whereas normal pattern formation exists in the thalamus and the trigeminal nuclei. No barrel-like patterns were visible with tenascin or serotonin immunostaining or with labeling of thalamocortical axons. An excess of brain serotonin during the critical period of barrel formation appears to have a causal role in these cortical abnormalities, since early administration of parachlorophenylalanine, an inhibitor of serotonin synthesis, in Tg8 pups restored the formation of barrels in S1, whereas inhibition of catecholamine synthesis did not. Transient inactivation of MAOA in normal newborns reproduced a barrelless phenotype in parts of S1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biogenic Monoamines / metabolism
  • Biomarkers
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Mice, Transgenic / genetics
  • Monoamine Oxidase / deficiency*
  • Monoamine Oxidase / genetics
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors
  • Neural Pathways / cytology
  • Neuroglia / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Reference Values
  • Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Somatosensory Cortex / cytology*
  • Somatosensory Cortex / metabolism
  • Thalamus / cytology
  • Thalamus / physiology


  • Biogenic Monoamines
  • Biomarkers
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors
  • Serotonin
  • Monoamine Oxidase