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Vaccine. 2002 Jun 21;20(21-22):2735-42.

In search of the active PZP epitope in white-tailed deer immunocontraception.

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  • 1National Wildlife Research Center, 4101 Laporte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521, USA.


Native porcine zona pellucida (PZP) has been shown to be highly effective as an immunocontraceptive in white-tailed deer. However, the immunogenicity of PZP extracted from pig ovaries may vary from lot to lot and the extract has the potential of containing either viral or pathogenic material. Determination of the immunocontraceptive epitopes of PZP would allow portions of the molecule to be synthesized or inserted into a recombinant system for production of a consistent and safe vaccine. In this study, epitopes of PZP were selected and tested by in vitro binding, immunogenicity in rabbits, immunogenicity and immunocontraception in deer. Sera from PZP immunocontracepted deer were tested on ELISA plates containing immobilized peptides from ZP1 and ZP3alpha. Peptides with which sera from infertile deer reacted (six peptides from ZP1 and six peptides from ZP3alpha) were selected, synthesized and tested for immunogenicity in rabbits. Deer were then immunized with combinations of peptides from either the ZP1 or ZP3alpha groups. ZP3alpha peptides induced high immune titers against native PZP, but did not induce infertility in the deer. Although ZP1 peptides induced lower titers, deer immunized with two ZP1 peptides exhibited multiple estrus events and infertility, typical of that for deer immunized with native PZP vaccine. Competitive inhibition assays using the ZP1 peptides demonstrated that the peptide comprising pins 10-16 was most effective in blocking binding by the serum antibody of native PZP immunized deer. This peptide was used to immunocontracept deer, resulting in a significant reduction in fawning for 1 year.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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