MAO (monoamine oxidase) is a very specific molecule that lives in many parts of our bodies. What's interesting about MAO is that since it is found almost everywhere, it does a lot of stuff for our bodies that we take for granted, especially cleaning up some of the left-overs from when our neurons send out signals, or when we eat things that our bodies don't want to deal with. It's good to have someone clean things up for you, really it is.

Since MAO is involved in so many things that our bodies do, it is hard to escape if something goes wrong. As you can guess, having too little or too much of it can lead to trouble, and this trouble ranges from mental illnesses and depression to alcoholism and unstable social behavior. Sound interesting? We plan to explore the story of what MAO really does in us, and we invite you to join us on this trip! For those of you who are familiar with this terminology, we have put in enough information to keep you from getting bored, and for those of you who are new to this type of exploration, never fear, for we have made a glossary for many of the more specific terms we use. All you have to do is click on the words that are linked, in order to access the glossary. Some parts of this site will be much more readable to you than others, but we are sure that you can still get a lot out of it.

MAO is actually an enzyme, and that is why it is able to change other molecules around it. MAO works by removing the functional group NR2 from certain molecules to leave an oxidized oxygen (doubly bonded) in place of the amine (NR2 group).

MAO is found in the central nervous system as well as the digestive system and for this reason it is known as a neurological enzyme. We will examine MAO, showing you how it affects behavior, while including pertinent information on the genetics, structure, function, mechanism and psychological effects.

So, you may be wondering why we refer to this molecule as chairman MAO. As you will see as you investigate this website, we call it this because it acts as a sort of "chairman" in our bodies. The level of this molecule in our bodies affects digestion, neurological function, and behavior.

The History of MAO Research
  • First enzyme discovered - Tyramine Oxidase
The Structure of MAO

  • contains flavo group - FAD
  • Two forms of MAO - A and B
The Mechanism

  • Reaction Pathway - Oxidative deamination
  • By products and their effects
Location of Enzyme

  • Mitochondrial enzymes
  • Predominant in liver, CNS, and gastrointestinal tract
The Function of MAO

  • Substrates
  • Active Site
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
The Genetics of MAO

  • Gene structure and location
  • Genetic regulation
  • The Dutch Family
  • Effect of lack of MAO-A gene
Disorders associated with MAO

  • Behavioral
  • Treatment with MAO inhibitors
  • Depression

Authors of MAO

Jason Carriere

Scott Furlan

Karin Holt

Marianne Oberpillar

Lauren Paulson

Mandla Shongwe