Structure and mechanism of monoamine oxidase

D. E. Edmondson, A. Mattevi, C. Binda, M. Li, F. Hubálek

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

262 Scopus citations


Monoamine oxidases A and B (MAO A and MAO B) are mitochondrial outer membrane-bound flavoproteins that catalyze the oxidative deamination of neurotransmitters and biogenic amines. A number of mechanism-based inhibitors (MAOI's) have been developed for clinical use as antidepressants and as neuroprotective drugs. To facilitate the development of more effective and specific inhibitors, a detailed understanding of the structures and catalytic mechanisms of these enzymes is required. The recent development of high level expression systems for producing recombinant human liver MAO A and MAO B in Pichia pastoris has facilitated the determination of the three dimensional crystal structures of MAO B (up to 1.7 Å resolution) in complex with different reversible (isatin, 1,4-diphenyl-2-butene) and irreversible inhibitors (pargyline, N-(2-aminoethyl)-p-chlorobenzamide, and trans-2-phenylcyclopropylamine). The binding of substrates or inhibitors to MAO B involves an initial negotiation of a protein loop occurring near the surface of the membrane and two hydrophobic cavities; an " entrance" cavity and an "active site" cavity. These two cavities can either be separate or in a fused state depending on the conformation of the Ile199 side chain, which appears to function as a gate. The amine function of the bound substrate approaches the re face of the bent and "puckered" covalent FAD through an " aromatic cage" formed by two tyrosine residues that are perpendicular to the plane of the flavin ring. No amino acid residues that could function as acids or bases are found near the catalytic site. The existing structural data on MAO B support previous QSAR results and are also supportive of a proposed polar nucleophilic mechanism for MAO A and B catalysis rather than the alternatively proposed single electron transfer mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1983-1993
Number of pages11
JournalCurrent medicinal chemistry
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 2004


  • Catalytic mechanisms
  • Monoamine oxidase A (MAO A)
  • Monoamine oxidase B (MAO B)
  • Three-dimensional structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Organic Chemistry


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