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Brain molecule discovered that regulates human emotion, mood

A has discovered an enzyme called Rines that regulates MAO-A, a major brain protein controlling emotion and mood. The enzyme is a potentially promising drug target for treating diseases associated with emotions such as depression.

Monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A) is an enzyme that breaks down serotonin, norephinephrine and dopamine, neurotransmitters well-known for their influence on emotion and mood. Nicknamed the “warrior gene”, a variant of the MAOA gene has been associated with increased risk of violent and anti-social behavior.

While evidence points to a link between MAO-A levels and various emotional patterns, however, the mechanism controlling MAO-A levels in the brain has remained unknown.

Now, a research team headed by Jun Aruga at the has shown for the first time that a ligase named Rines (RING finger-type ) regulates these levels. Their research shows that mice without the Rines gene exhibit impaired stress responses and enhanced anxiety, controlled in part through the regulation of MAO-A levels. The study is published today in Journal of Neuroscience.

As the first study to demonstrate regulation of MAO-A protein via the ubiquitin proteasomal system, this research presents a promising new avenue for analyzing the role of MAO-A in brain function. Further research promises insights into the treatment of anxiety, stress-related disorders and impaired social functions.


“Rines E3 Ubiquitin Ligase Regulates MAO-A Levels and Emotional Responses.”

Miyuki Kabayama, Kazuto Sakoori, Kazuyuki Yamada, Veravej G. Ornthanalai, Maya Ota, Naoko Morimura, Kei-ichi Katayama, Niall P. Murphy, and Jun Aruga. The Journal of Neuroscience, 2013. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5717-12.2013