Latherin: a surfactant protein of horse sweat and saliva

Rhona E. McDonald*, Rachel I. Flemming*, John G. Beeley, Douglas L. Bovell, Jian R. Lu, Xiubo Zhao, Alan Cooper, Malcolm W. Kennedy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


Horses are unusual in producing protein-rich sweat for thermoregulation, a major component of which is latherin, a highly surface-active, non-glycosylated protein. The amino acid sequence of latherin, determined from cDNA analysis, is highly conserved across four geographically dispersed equid species (horse, zebra, onager, ass), and is similar to a family of proteins only found previously in the oral cavity and associated tissues of mammals. Latherin produces a significant reduction in water surface tension at low concentrations (=1 mg ml-1), and therefore probably acts as a wetting agent to facilitate evaporative cooling through a waterproofed pelt.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere5726
Number of pages12
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2009


  • latherin
  • equine physiology
  • horses
  • globular proteins
  • sweat
  • recombinant proteins
  • surface tension
  • fluorescence
  • protein structure


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