The rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus appeared in the Iberian peninsula in the middle of the Pleistocene. Rabbit domestication is recent (first selections in the Middle Ages) and it is one of the few mammal species that coexist both in the wild and domesticated. About 90 pure breeds of rabbit are listed and represent natural mutants for multiple traits. In addition to its economic interest, the rabbit is also a suitable model for biomedical research: it has numerous offspring, is small in size and lives in easily controllable breeding conditions.
Rabbit physiology is well described. Its repsonse to antigens is excellent, allowing the production of specific antibodies. Strains carrying various mutations and strains from the many selected breeds are available for genetic studies. In biomedical research, the rabbit is exploited for toxicology studies and is a good model for experimental surgery. In bioengineering, recombinant proteins are produced commercially.
The first cloning success of rabbits from adult cells was reported in 2002 and had since been replicated by several research teams. Currently, active research is being conducted to produce rabbit embryonic stem cells that would open up great possibilities in basic research. Finally, the rabbit is considered to be a more representative model of most mammals than the mouse, to study the early stages of development: particularly the period of transcriptional activation of the embryonic genome and gastrulation. Moreover, the structure of the placenta and its lipid metabolism make it a relevant model of humans for analyzing fetal programming phenomena. The rabbit is also considered a key species for studying domestication processes and associated genetic signatures.
  • Name : Oryctolagus cuniculus
  • Phylogenetic classification: mammal, family Leporidae, subfamily Leporinae, order Lagomorphs
  • Genome sequencing complete, Broad Institute
    Shotgun 2X sequence available since 2005
  • Genome size : 2,8 Gb
A rabbit can produce between three and eighteen young every three months, with a gestation period of 28 to 31 days. During lactation, a female rabbit secretes nearly 250 milliliters of milk per day, which allows for the collection of up to 15 liters of milk per year per individual. This characteristic makes the rabbit species particularly relevant for the production of recombinant proteins in milk.
  • Breeding under controlled conditions
  • BAC libraries
  • Cellular transfections
  • Transgenesis
  • Somatic cell cloning
  • Genetic, cytogenetic integrated maps
  • DNA chips for analysis of the transcriptome
  • Antibodies
  • Unité Commune d’Expérimentation Animale - Unité INRA, UCEA
  • Jouy-en-Josas
  • Station d’Amélioration Génétique des Animaux SAGA UR631-INRA
  • Toulouse
  • Jouy-en-Josas
  • Biologie du développement, cellules souches, clonage, Biologie du développement et de la reproduction UMR1198 INRA-ENVA
  • Jouy-en-Josas
  • Bioingénierie, BioProtein technologies
  • Jouy-en-Josas
  • claire.rogel-gaillard@jouy.inra.fr
  • INRA/AgroParisTech, UMR1313, Laboratoire de Génétique Animale et Biologie Intégrative, équipe INRA-CEA Génétique Immunité Santé, Jouy-en-Josas
  • Articles

White paper : 7X rabbit genome sequencing by the Broad Institute : http://www.genome.gov/Pages/Research/Sequencing/SeqProposals/2x-7x_promotion_seq.pdf

″Rabbit Biotechnology: Rabbit Genomics, Transgenesis, Cloning and Models″, éd. Louis-Marie Houdebine et Jianglin Fan, Springer, 2009

″In Genome Mapping in Animals, Genome mapping in the rabbit.″, Rogel-Gaillard C, Ferrand N, Hayes H. Vol II Wildlife & Companion Animals, Eds C Kole & NE Cockett, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg, New York, Tokyo, 2009.

″The Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus): A Model for Mammalian Reproduction and Early Embryology″, Püschel1 B., Daniel N., Bitzer E., Blum M., Renard J-P., and Viebahn1 C.

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