Urinary lipocalins

Beynon, RJ, Hurst, JL, Turton, MJ , Robertson, DHL , Armstrong, SD, Cheetham, SA, Simpson, D, MacNicoll, A, Humphries, RE  (2008) Urinary lipocalins in rodenta: is there a generic model? Chemical Signals in Vertebrates 11, 37-49 [PDF]

It is increasingly clear that mediation of chemical signals is not the exclusive domain of low molecular volatile or water soluble metabolites. Pheromone binding proteins play an important role in mediating the activity of low molecular weight compounds, while proteins and peptides can also act as information molecules in their own right. Understanding of the role played by proteins in scents has been derived largely from the study of Major Urinary Proteins (MUPs) in the mouse (Mus musculus domesticus) and the rat (Rattus norvegicus). As part of an ongoing programme to explore the diversity and complexity of urinary proteins in rodents, we have applied a proteomics-based approach to the analysis of urinary proteins from a wider range of rodents. These data suggest that many species express proteins in their urine that are structurally similar to the MUPs, although there is considerable diversity in concentration, in sexual dimorphism and in polymorphic complexity. This is likely to reflect a high degree of species-specificity in communication and the information that these proteins provide in scent signals.