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

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

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  • 1Department of Molecular Neurobiology, University of Tokyo, Japan.


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.

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