Vulpeculin: a novel and abundant lipocalin in the urine of the common brushtail possum, Trichosurus vulpecula

Loxley, Grace M., et al. “Vulpeculin: A Novel and Abundant Lipocalin in the Urine of the Common Brushtail Possum, Trichosurus Vulpecula.” Open Biology, no. 10, The Royal Society, Oct. 2020, p. 200218. Crossref, doi:10.1098/rsob.200218.


Lipocalins are a family of secreted proteins. They are capable of binding small lipophilic compounds and have been extensively studied for their role in chemosignalling in rodent urine. Urine of the common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) contains a prominent glycoprotein of 20 kDa, expressed in both sexes. We have isolated this protein and determined its primary sequence by mass spectrometry, including the use of metabolic labelling to resolve the leucine/isoleucine isobaric ambiguity. The protein sequence was identified as a lipocalin, and phylogenetic analysis grouped the protein with other marsupial lipocalin sequences in a phylogenetic clade distinct from established cross-species lipocalin sub-families. The pattern of expression in possum urine and the similarity in sequence and structure to other lipocalins suggests this protein may have a role in brushtail possum chemosignalling.