Identification of major histocompatibility complex-regulated body odorants by statistical analysis of a comparative gas chromatography/mass spectrometry experiment

Anal Chem. 2005 Apr 15;77(8):2348-61. doi: 10.1021/ac048711t.


This paper examines the application of gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) in a comparative experiment to identify volatile compounds from urine that differ in concentration between two groups of inbred mice. A complex mixture might comprise several hundred or even thousands of volatile compounds. Because their number and location in a chromatogram are generally unknown, and because components overlap in populous chromatograms, the statistical problems offer significant challenges beyond traditional two-group screening procedures. We describe a statistical procedure to compare two-dimensional GC/MS profiles between groups, which entails (1) signal processing, baseline correction, and peak detection in single ion chromatograms; (2) aligning chromatograms in time; (3) normalizing differences in overall signal intensities; and (4) detecting chromatographic regions that differ between groups. In an application to chemosignaling, we detect differences in GC/MS chromatograms of ether-extracted urine collected from two inbred groups of mice that differ only in genes of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). Several dozen MHC-regulated compounds are found, including two known mouse pheromones, 2,5-dimethylpyrazine and 2-sec-butyl-4,5-dihydrothiazole.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Discriminant Analysis
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Major Histocompatibility Complex / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Odorants / analysis*
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Urine / chemistry*