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Biol Reprod. 2006 Mar;74(3):511-21. Epub 2005 Nov 23.

Immunocontraceptive effects on female rabbits infected with recombinant myxoma virus expressing rabbit ZP2 or ZP3.

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  • 1Pest Animal Control Cooperative Research Centre, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) Sustainable Ecosystems, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601, Australia.


Recombinant myxoma viruses expressing rabbit zona pellucida 2 (rZP2) or rabbit zona pellucida 3 (rZP3) glycoproteins were constructed and tested in domestic rabbits to assess their potential to induce autoimmune infertility. The recombinant virus expressing rZP2 had no effect on fertility or ovarian histology, despite all animals developing antibodies against the rZP2 antigen. However, recombinant viruses expressing rZP3 induced infertility in 70% of animals at the first breeding. Serum antibodies were relatively short-lived, but antibody was bound to zona pellucida of all rabbits from Day 10 onward. There was no obvious correlation between infertility and rZP3 antibody titer. There was a transient inflammatory response in the ovaries of rZP3-immunized rabbits at Day 15 but no T-cell response to rZP3 could be detected at any time. Dysfunctional follicular formation was present in ovaries from rabbits infected with rZP3-expressing viruses 15-40 days postinfection but this had disappeared at later time points. A recombinant myxoma virus expressing a modified rZP3 antigen with the C-terminal hydrophobic putative anchor sequence deleted was also tested. This virus did not induce either infertility or an antibody response against the zona pellucida. Thus, the context of antigen presentation was crucial for an autoimmune response.

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