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Reviewed September 2007
What is the official name of the COMT gene?
The official name of this gene is “catechol-O-methyltransferase.”
COMT is the gene's official symbol. The COMT gene is also known by other names, listed below.
Read more about gene names and symbols on the About page.
What is the normal function of the COMT gene?
The COMT gene provides instructions for making an enzyme called catechol-O-methyltransferase. Two versions of this enzyme are made from the gene. The longer form, called membrane-bound catechol-O-methyltransferase (MB-COMT), is chiefly produced by nerve cells in the brain. Other tissues, including the liver, kidneys, and blood, produce a shorter form of the enzyme called soluble catechol-O-methyltransferase (S-COMT). This form of the enzyme helps control the levels of certain hormones.
In the brain, catechol-O-methyltransferase helps break down certain chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. These chemicals conduct signals from one nerve cell to another. Catechol-O-methyltransferase is particularly important in an area at the front of the brain called the prefrontal cortex, which organizes and coordinates information from other parts of the brain. This region is involved with personality, planning, inhibition of behaviors, abstract thinking, emotion, and working (short-term) memory. To function efficiently, the prefrontal cortex requires signalling by neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine. Catechol-O-methyltransferase helps maintain appropriate levels of these neurotransmitters in this part of the brain.
How are changes in the COMT gene related to health conditions?
Where is the COMT gene located?
Cytogenetic Location: 22q11.21
Molecular Location on chromosome 22: base pairs 19,941,739 to 19,969,974
The COMT gene is located on the long (q) arm of chromosome 22 at position 11.21.
More precisely, the COMT gene is located from base pair 19,941,739 to base pair 19,969,974 on chromosome 22.
See How do geneticists indicate the location of a gene? in the Handbook.
Where can I find additional information about COMT?
You and your healthcare professional may find the following resources about COMT helpful.
You may also be interested in these resources, which are designed for genetics professionals and researchers.
What other names do people use for the COMT gene or gene products?
See How are genetic conditions and genes named? in the Handbook.
Where can I find general information about genes?
The Handbook provides basic information about genetics in clear language.
These links provide additional genetics resources that may be useful.
What glossary definitions help with understanding COMT?
ADHD ; amino acid ; anxiety ; attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ; bipolar disorder ; cell ; chromosome ; cognition ; deletion ; depression ; dopamine ; enzyme ; gene ; hyperactivity ; Mb ; mental illness ; methionine ; methyltransferase ; nerve cell ; neurotransmitters ; obsessive-compulsive disorder ; OCD ; panic disorder ; polymorphism ; prefrontal cortex ; protein ; schizophrenia ; soluble ; syndrome ; thermolabile ; valine
You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.
See also Understanding Medical Terminology.
References (18 links)
The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? in the Handbook.