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Molecular characterization of monoamine oxidases A and B.

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  • 1Division of Medicinal Chemistry, College of Pharmacy, Institute for Neuroscience, University of Texas, Austin 78712, USA.


Monoamine oxidase A and B (MAO A and B) are the major neurotransmitter-degrading enzymes in the central nervous system and in peripheral tissues. MAO A and B cDNAs from human, rat, and bovine species have been cloned and their deduced amino acid sequences compared. Comparison of A and B forms of the enzyme shows approximately 70% sequence identity, whereas comparison of the A or B forms across species reveals a higher sequence identity of 87%. Within these sequences, several functional regions have been identified that contain crucial amino acid residues participating in flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) or substrate binding. These include a dinucleotide-binding site, a second FAD-binding site, a fingerprint site, the FAD covalent-binding site, an active site, and the membrane-anchoring site. The specific residues that play a role in FAD or substrate binding were identified by comparing sequences in wild-type and variants of MAO with those in soluble flavoproteins of known structures. The genes that encode MAO A and B are closely aligned on the X chromosome (Xp11.23), and have identical exon-intron organization. Immunocytochemical localization studies of MAO A and B in primate brain showed distribution in distinct neurons with diverse physiological functions. A defective MAO A gene has been reported to associate with abnormal aggressive behavior. A deleterious role played by MAO B is the activation of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP), a proneurotoxin that can cause a parkinsonian syndrome in mammals. Deprenyl, an inhibitor of MAO B, has been used for the treatment of early-stage Parkinson's disease and provides protection of neurons from age-related decay.

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