Several small, raised lesions from the underside of the tongue of domestic rabbits were isolated, and an extract prepared and tested for the presence of rabbit oral papillomavirus (ROPV). Two weeks after inoculation of this extract into the underside of rabbit tongues, multiple small discrete, grey-white nodules were observed that reached a maximum size of 2 mm in diameter by 5 weeks. These lesions showed typical ROPV pathology, and nuclei stained positive for papillomavirus (PV) group-specific antigen (GSA) by immunocytochemistry. Tissue fragments from rabbit tongues were incubated with a suspension of ROPV and placed subrenally into athymic mice. After 60 days, cysts were removed, sections cut for histology, and a virus stock prepared. GSA staining and in site hybridization demonstrated that the xenografts were morphologically transformed with areas showing strong nuclear staining for viral capsid antigen and ROPV DNA. Extracts prepared from the pooled xenografts contained infectious ROPV as demonstrated by inoculation into the undersurface of tongues of non-immune New Zealand White rabbits. The results demonstrated that stocks of infectious ROPV can be prepared in the athymic mouse xenograft system for use in studies on the experimental transmission of a mucosal-targeting animal papillomavirus.
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