Rabbit oral papillomavirus (ROPV) infects mucosal tissues of domestic rabbits. The viral genomic sequence has been determined and the most related papillomavirus type was the cutaneous cottontail rabbit papillomavirus (CRPV). Homologies between the open reading frames (ORFs) of ROPV and CRPV, however, ranged from 68% amino acid identity for L1 to only 23% identity for E4. Shared features unique to the two rabbit viruses included a large E60RF and a small E80RF that overlapped the E60RF. Serological responses to ROPV L1 viruslike particles (VLPs) were detected in rabbits infected at either the genital or oral mucosa with ROPV. The antibody response was specific to intact ROPV L1 VLP antigen, was first detected at the time of late regression, and persisted at high levels for several months after complete regression. Both oral and genital lesions regressed spontaneously, accompanied by a heavy infiltrate of lymphocytes. ROPV infection of rabbit genital mucosa is a useful model to study host immunological responses to genital papillomavirus infections. (C) 2000 Academic Press.
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