Major urinary proteins (MUPs) are often suggested to be highly polymorphic, and thereby provide unique chemical signatures used for individual and genetic kin recognition; however, studies on MUP variability have been lacking. We surveyed populations of wild house mice (Mus musculus musculus), and examined variation of MUP genes and proteins. We sequenced several Mup genes (9 to 11 loci) and unexpectedly found no inter-individual variation. We also found that microsatellite markers inside the MUP cluster show remarkably low levels of allelic diversity, and significantly lower than the diversity of markers flanking the cluster or other markers in the genome. We found low individual variation in the number and types of MUP proteins using a shotgun proteomic approach, even among mice with variable MUP electrophoretic profiles. We identified gel bands and spots using high-resolution mass spectrometry and discovered that gel-based methods do not separate MUP proteins, and therefore do not provide measures of MUP diversity, as generally assumed. The low diversity and high homology of Mup genes are likely maintained by purifying selection and gene conversion, and our results indicate that the type of selection on MUPs and their adaptive functions need to be re-evaluated.
Alleles Animals Animals, Wild Base Sequence Conserved Sequence Female Gene Expression Genome Heterozygote Male Mice Microsatellite Repeats Multigene Family Proteinsclassificationgenetics Sequence Analysis, DNA