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J Reprod Immunol. 2009 Jan;79(2):156-62. doi: 10.1016/j.jri.2008.10.004. Epub 2009 Feb 11.

Immunocontraception of Eastern Grey kangaroos (Macropus giganteus) with recombinant brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) ZP3 protein.

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  • 1Cooperative Research Centre for Conservation and Management of Marsupials, School of Environmental and Life Sciences, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia.


This study examined the potential of a recombinant marsupial zona pellucida 3 protein as a contraceptive vaccine for the Eastern Grey kangaroo, a marsupial that is locally overabundant in several regions of eastern Australia. First, a pilot study using porcine zona pellucidae (PZP) demonstrated that ZP proteins, primarily the ZP3 component of PZP, are highly immunogenic in the grey kangaroo and produce a long-lasting humoral response to a single immunisation, as found in other marsupials. Immunisation with 300 microg of a non-glycosylated recombinant brushtail possum ZP3 (recBP-ZP3) protein in complete Freund's adjuvant produced a similar, significant and sustained antibody response, and none of the immunised kangaroos (n=7) produced offspring during the following breeding season compared with four out of the six control animals. An epitope analysis of the B-cell response to recBP-ZP3 using a brushtail possum ZP3 identified numerous B-cell epitope regions clustered around the N- and C-terminal regions of the protein. Two regions of interest for further fertility vaccine development based on their immunogenicity and fertility trials and functional studies in other species were found to be immunogenic. These results suggest that immunocontraception based on targeting the ZP3 protein within the zona pellucida may be an effective strategy for fertility reduction in Eastern Grey kangaroos.

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