Immunocontraception, the prevention of oocyte fertilization through immunological means, could potentially be used to control plaguing mouse populations in Australia. This paper describes the construction of a mouse-specific betaherpesvirus, murine cytomegalovirus, which has been engineered to express the murine zona pellucida 3 (ZP3) gene. A single inoculation of this recombinant virus resulted in almost complete infertility, persistent anti-ZP3 antibody production, and profound changes to ovarian morphology in BALB/c mice in the absence of significant virus replication during the acute phase of infection. Murine cytomegalovirus may prove to be useful as a vector for the delivery of a mouse-specific immunocontraceptive agent to target populations of wild mice in the field.
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