Possible pheromone-carrier function of two lipocalin proteins in the vomeronasal organ

EMBO J. 1994 Dec 15;13(24):5835-42.


We report the molecular cloning and characterization of two secretory proteins specifically expressed in vomeronasal and posterior glands of the nasal septum, the ducts of which open into the lumen of the vomeronasal organ. These two proteins are members of the lipocalin superfamily, consisting of hydrophobic ligand carriers. We immunohistochemically localized one of the proteins in the mucus covering the vomeronasal sensory epithelium, where the primary reception of pheromone takes place. The immunoreactivity on the vomeronasal sensory epithelium was evident in the neonatal and post-pubertal periods, when the close contact between animals plays critical roles in suckling and sexual behaviors, respectively. These results suggest that small lipophilic molecules stimulate the accessory olfactory system to regulate the reproductive behavior of mice.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / immunology
  • Carrier Proteins / isolation & purification*
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Female
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Lipocalins
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mucus / chemistry
  • Nasal Septum / chemistry
  • Nasal Septum / growth & development
  • Olfactory Mucosa / chemistry*
  • Olfactory Mucosa / growth & development
  • Perception / physiology
  • Pheromones / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / isolation & purification
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Smell / physiology


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Lcn3 protein, mouse
  • Lcn4 protein, mouse
  • Lipocalins
  • Pheromones
  • RNA, Messenger

Associated data

  • GENBANK/D38580
  • GENBANK/D38581