Identification and Activity of Monoamine Oxidase in the Orb-Weaving Spider Larinioides Cornutus

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Monoamine oxidase (MAO) is a mitochondrial membrane-bound enzyme that catalyzes the oxidative deamination of monoamines in a wide array of organisms. While the enzyme monoamine oxidase has been studied extensively in its role in moderating behavior in mammals, there is a paucity of research investigating this role in invertebrates, where the latter utilizes this enzyme in a major pathway to degrade monoamines. There is especially a dismal lack of information on how MAO influences activity in invertebrates, particularly in account of the circadian cycle. Previous studies revealed MAO degrades serotonin and norepinephrine in arachnids, but did not investigate other critically important compounds like octopamine. Larinioides cornutus is a species of orb-weaving spider that exhibits diel fluctuations in behavior, specifically levels of aggression. The monoamines octopamine and serotonin have been shown to influence aggressive behaviors in L. cornutus, thus this species was used to investigate if MAO is a potential site of regulation throughout the day. Not only did gene expression of MAO orthologs and MAO activity fluctuate at different times of day, but the enzymatic activity was substrate-specific producing a higher level of degradation of octopamine as compared to serotonin in vitro. This study further supports evidence that MAO has an active role in monoamine inactivation in invertebrates and provides a first look at how MAO ultimately may be regulating behavior in an invertebrate.