Differential binding between volatile ligands and major urinary proteins due to genetic variation in mice.
ABSTRACT Two different structural classes of chemical signals in mouse urine, i.e., volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and the major urinary proteins (MUPs), interact closely because MUPs sequester VOCs. Although qualitative and/or quantitative differences in each chemical class have been reported, previous studies have examined only one of the classes at a time. No study has analyzed these two sets simultaneously, and consequently binding interactions between volatile ligands and proteins in urines of different strains have not been compared. Here, we compared the release of VOCs in male urines of three different inbred strains (C57BL/6J, BALB/b and AKR) before and after denaturation of urinary proteins, mainly MUPs. Both MUP and VOC profiles were distinctive in the intact urine of each strain. Upon denaturation, each of the VOC profiles changed due to the release of ligands previously bound to MUPs. The results indicate that large amounts of numerous ligands are bound to MUPs and that these ligands represent a variety of different structural classes of VOCs. Furthermore, the degree of release in each ligand was different in each strain, indicating that different ligands are differentially bound to proteins in the urines of different strains. Therefore, these data suggest that binding interactions in ligands and MUPs differ between strains, adding yet another layer of complexity to chemical communication in mice.