The genomes of rats and mice both contain a cluster of multiple genes that encode small (18–20 kDa) eight-stranded β-barrel lipocalins that are expressed in multiple secretory tissues, some of which enter urine via hepatic biosynthesis. These proteins have been given different names, but are mostly generically referred to as MUPs (major urinary proteins). The mouse MUP cluster is increasingly well understood, and, in particular, a number of roles for MUPs in chemical communication between conspecifics have been established. By contrast, the literature on the rat orthologues is much less well developed and is fragmented. In the present review, we summarize current knowledge on the MUPs from the Norway (or brown) rat, Rattus norvegicus.

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