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Curr Biol. 2008 May 6;18(9):678-83. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2008.04.012. Epub 2008 Apr 24.

Regulation of monoamine oxidase A by circadian-clock components implies clock influence on mood.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Biochemistry, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland.


The circadian clock has been implicated in addiction and several forms of depression [1, 2], indicating interactions between the circadian and the reward systems in the brain [3-5]. Rewards such as food, sex, and drugs influence this system in part by modulating dopamine neurotransmission in the mesolimbic dopamine reward circuit, including the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and the ventral striatum (NAc). Hence, changes in dopamine levels in these brain areas are proposed to influence mood in humans and mice [6-10]. To establish a molecular link between the circadian-clock mechanism and dopamine metabolism, we analyzed the murine promoters of genes encoding key enzymes important in dopamine metabolism. We find that transcription of the monoamine oxidase A (Maoa) promoter is regulated by the clock components BMAL1, NPAS2, and PER2. A mutation in the clock gene Per2 in mice leads to reduced expression and activity of MAOA in the mesolimbic dopaminergic system. Furthermore, we observe increased levels of dopamine and altered neuronal activity in the striatum, and these results probably lead to behavioral alterations observed in Per2 mutant mice in despair-based tests. These findings suggest a role of circadian-clock components in dopamine metabolism highlighting a role of the clock in regulating mood-related behaviors.

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