Monoamine oxidase A and monoamine oxidase B (MAOA and MAOB) have been suggested to play a role in psychiatric disorders and/or behavioral traits. We have investigated whether different polymorphisms can account for variations in enzyme activity and/or mRNA levels in human brain. Whereas several association studies have been reported previously, this is the first study of the functional effect of MAO DNA variants in human brain. Four polymorphic changes were analyzed: a VNTR located in the MAOA promoter, a VNTR located in the first intron of the MAOA gene, and two single nucleotide polymorphisms located in exon 8 of MAOA and in intron 13 of MAOB. We studied the association of the variants and the resulting haplotypes, with expression levels and enzyme activities of both monoamine oxidases in human cortical brain autopsies. We did not find a significant association of any single MAOA polymorphism with expression levels or enzyme activity in human brain. We did, however, find an association of a particular haplotype with MAOA enzyme levels (P=0.03). Our results suggest that a novel functional polymorphism that affects enzyme activity in human brain may exist in MAOA. For MAOB, we found a significant association (P=0.02) between the MAOB intron 13 alleles and different levels of MAOB enzyme activity in human brain. We postulate that there may be a cis-regulatory element in linkage disequilibrium with the B-SNP13 polymorphisms that alters MAOB enzyme activity in human brain.
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Balciuniene, J., Emilsson, L., Oreland, L. et al. Investigation of the functional effect of monoamine oxidase polymorphisms in human brain. Hum Genet 110, 1–7 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00439-001-0652-8