Biochemical Journal

Research article

Molecular heterogeneity in the Major Urinary Proteins of the house mouse Mus musculus

Duncan H. L. ROBERTSON, Kathleen A. COX, Simon J. GASKELL, Richard P. EVERSHED, Robert J. BEYNON


Major Urinary Proteins (MUPs) from different inbred strains of mouse have been analysed by high-resolution ion-exchange chromatography and mass spectrometry. MUPs from six strains were resolved chromatographically into four major protein peaks which characterized two distinct phenotypes, typified by the profiles obtained from the Balb/c and C57BL/6 inbred strains. A combination of ion-exchange chromatography and electrospray ionization mass spectrometry analysis of the MUPs from each strain identified five proteins, only one of which was common to both strains. The charge and mass data, together with N-terminal sequence analyses, were correlated with the masses of the proteins inferred from published cDNA sequences. Several members of the family of MUP sequences differ in only four positions, and in some circumstances the substitutions elicit a minimal change in protein mass (Lys/Gln; Lys/Glu). Peptide mapping with endopeptidase Lys-C, followed by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization–time-of-flight mass spectrometry permitted identification of new MUPs that were correlated with partial cDNA sequence data. In the two strains there are at least 13 different MUPs, either observed or predicted, indicating the heterogeneity of expression of this group of proteins.