A primary site of infection in mammals is the nostrils, representing the gate to the brain through olfactory and vomeronasal epithelia, eyes as a direct route to the brain via the optical nerve, and oral cavity representing the main route to the digestive tract. Similarly, pheromones, odorants and tastants enter animal bodies the same way. Therefore similar evolutionary forces might have shaped the evolution of systems for recognition of pathogens and chemical signals. This might have resulted in sharing various proteins among systems of recognition and filtering to decrease potential costs of evolving and utilizing unique biochemical pathways. This has been documented previously in, for example, multipurpose and widely distributed GPCRs (G-protein-coupled receptors). The aim of the present review is to explore potential functional overlaps or complementary functions of lipocalins in the system of perception of exogenous substances to reconstruct the evolutionary forces that might have shaped their synergistic functions.

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