The Genetics Behind MAO-A

Brief Summary

This section contains some rather technical information that may require an understanding of genetics, so we will give a basic summary of the genetics behind MAO here, and you may proceed to the more detailed descriptions below if you feel up to it.

Several studies have been done on the MAO gene. The basic lesson of this section is that it only takes a small change in the normal code of the MAO gene to produce very diverse and complex behavioral effects. This section also discusses a study which showed that slightly different versions of the MAO gene have a directly correlated effect on the levels of MAO activity in the body. These studies show that the MAO gene is important not only for proper synthesis of the MAO enzyme, but also for proper regulation of MAO levels in the body. These studies indicate that genetic treatments could also be an option for people with abnormal MAO levels.

Let Us Get Down With It

The gene encoding monoamine oxidase lies on the short arm of the X chromosome, usually referred to as Xp. The genes for MAO-A and MAO-B are right next to each other, lying between positions Xp 11.23 and Xp 11.4. The genes also have a strucutral simmilarity of more than 70%. Both genes contain 15 exons(protein coding regions on gene that become translated into functional mRNA after post-transcriptional modification), interspersed with 14 introns (other random genetic information on gene that does not become whose translated copy does not become part of the functional mRNA). The gene encoding for MAO is obviously very important. It contains the blue-print for the proper assembly of the MAO-A enzyme. So what happens when the blue-print is either missing or even slightly incorrect.

Even if the gene is able to put together the proper sequence of amino acids to make MAO-A, there are other factors encoded in the MAO-A gene that seem to have a direct genetic influence on regulation of MAO-A activity levels, according to recent research. This evidence is supported by the fact that identical twin have extremely similar MAO activity levels. This genetic regulation of MAO-A activity levels also appears to have important behavioral implications.

Genetic Regulation
Of MAO Levels

Effects Of
The Lack of The MAO-A Gene

Effects of Gene Mutation

Return to Main Page