Elephant albumin: a multipurpose pheromone shuttle

Submitted by Naturenomics Team on Wed, 09/11/2016 - 08:42

(Z)-7-dodecenyl acetate (Z7-12:Ac) is present in the urine of female Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) approaching ovulation and functions as a female-to-male sex pheromone. Here we show that a significant fraction of the pheromone in the urine is bound to a protein, elephant serum albumin (ESA), and provide evidence for key physiological functions of urinary ESA. Our biochemical and behavioral experiments suggest a three-fold role of ESA in pheromone signaling: (1) transporting Z7-12:Ac from serum into urine; (2) extending the presence of the pheromone in the environment without hampering detection; and (3) targeting pheromone delivery to chemosensory organs through localized release of the ligand induced by a pH change. The exploitation of albumin in pheromone transport clearly distinguishes the elephant from other mammals studied, and complements the uniqueness of elephant anatomy, physiology, and behavior


Lazar, J., Rasmussen, L.E., Greenwood, D.R., Bang, I.S., Prestwich, G.D., 2004. 


691. Chem. Biol. 11, 1093-1100.

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