Abnormal behavior associated with a point mutation in the structural gene for monoamine oxidase A

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Science  22 Oct 1993:
Vol. 262, Issue 5133, pp. 578-580
DOI: 10.1126/science.8211186


Genetic and metabolic studies have been done on a large kindred in which several males are affected by a syndrome of borderline mental retardation and abnormal behavior. The types of behavior that occurred include impulsive aggression, arson, attempted rape, and exhibitionism. Analysis of 24-hour urine samples indicated markedly disturbed monoamine metabolism. This syndrome was associated with a complete and selective deficiency of enzymatic activity of monoamine oxidase A (MAOA). In each of five affected males, a point mutation was identified in the eighth exon of the MAOA structural gene, which changes a glutamine to a termination codon. Thus, isolated complete MAOA deficiency in this family is associated with a recognizable behavioral phenotype that includes disturbed regulation of impulsive aggression.

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