Molecular analysis of the antigenicity and immunogenicity of recombinant zona pellucida antigens in a primate model

E. D. Schwoebel, C. A. Vandevoort, V. H. Lee, Y. K. Lo, B. S. Dunbar

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23 Scopus citations


The studies reported here are the first to demonstrate that recombinant zona pellucida (ZP) proteins will elicit a humoral immune response that recognizes native ZP proteins. Three cDNAs encoding rabbit ZP protein antigens expressed in bacteria were used to immunize cynomolgus monkeys. Four groups of six monkeys each were immunized with bacterially expressed cro-β- galactosidase recombinant proteins encoded by a full-length cDNA (rc55) encoding the 55-kDa rabbit ZP recombinant protein (rec55), two partial cDNAs (rc75a and rc75b) encoding two recombinant peptides (rec75a and rec75b) of the 75-kDa rabbit ZP protein, and the plasmid-encoded cro-β-galactosidase control protein. Initial immunizations with these fusion proteins using the muramyl dipeptide adjuvant did not elicit significant levels of antibodies to native or recombinant ZP proteins. Further immunizations were therefore carried out using recombinant ZP proteins conjugated to either protein A or keyhole limpet hemocyanin. Antibodies were detected in the groups immunized with the rec55 and rec75a; however, no antibodies were generated against the rec75b protein. These antibodies have been characterized by two-dimensional PAGE immunoblotting and shown to recognize antigenic domains associated with two of the native rabbit ZP proteins. Reprobes of these immunoblots with sheep anti-total native rabbit ZP proteins, affinity-purified on pig ZP, further demonstrate that a fourth distinct rabbit ZP antigen may be present. The characterization of species-conserved antigenic domains of mammalian ZP proteins is important for studies of the functional regions of ZP proteins and is critical for the design of safe and effective contraceptive vaccines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)857-865
Number of pages9
JournalBiology of Reproduction
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Embryology


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