Researchers uncover brain molecule regulating human emotion, mood

August 6, 2013, RIKEN
A RIKEN research team 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. Credit: RIKEN

A RIKEN research team 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 RIKEN Brain Science Institute has shown for the first time that a ligase named Rines (RING finger-type E3 ubiquitin ligase) 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.

A RIKEN research team 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. Credit: RIKEN

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.

Explore further: Fear factor: Missing brain enzyme leads to abnormal levels of fear in mice

More information: Kabayama et al. Rines E3 Ubiquitin Ligase Regulates MAO-A Levels and Emotional Responses, Journal of Neuroscience, 2013 DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5717-12.2013

Related Stories

Fear factor: Missing brain enzyme leads to abnormal levels of fear in mice

July 15, 2013
A little bit of learned fear is a good thing, keeping us from making risky, stupid decisions or falling over and over again into the same trap. But new research from neuroscientists and molecular biologists at USC shows that ...

Brain chemical may explain why heavy smokers feel sad after quitting

August 2, 2011
Heavy smokers may experience sadness after quitting because early withdrawal leads to an increase in the mood-related brain protein monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A), a new study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) ...

High levels of a specific enzyme in fetuses linked to anxiety

July 24, 2013
Mouse embryos with the human enzyme CYP2C19 in the brain develop a smaller hippocampus and anxiety-like behaviour as adults. The results of this new study, which is published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, agree in ...

Recommended for you

How your brain remembers what you had for dinner last night

January 17, 2018
Confirming earlier computational models, researchers at University of California San Diego and UC San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues in Arizona and Louisiana, report that episodic memories are encoded in the hippocampus ...

Recording a thought's fleeting trip through the brain

January 17, 2018
University of California, Berkeley neuroscientists have tracked the progress of a thought through the brain, showing clearly how the prefrontal cortex at the front of the brain coordinates activity to help us act in response ...

Midbrain 'start neurons' control whether we walk or run

January 17, 2018
Locomotion comprises the most fundamental movements we perform. It is a complex sequence from initiating the first step, to stopping when we reach our goal. At the same time, locomotion is executed at different speeds to ...

A 'touching sight': How babies' brains process touch builds foundations for learning

January 16, 2018
Touch is the first of the five senses to develop, yet scientists know far less about the baby's brain response to touch than to, say, the sight of mom's face, or the sound of her voice.

Brain zaps may help curb tics of Tourette syndrome

January 16, 2018
Electric zaps can help rewire the brains of Tourette syndrome patients, effectively reducing their uncontrollable vocal and motor tics, a new study shows.

Researchers identify protein involved in cocaine addiction

January 16, 2018
Mount Sinai researchers have identified a protein produced by the immune system—granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF)—that could be responsible for the development of cocaine addiction.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.