Immuno-informatics: Mining genomes for vaccine components

Immunol Cell Biol. 2002 Jun;80(3):255-69. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1711.2002.01092.x.


The complete genome sequences of more than 60 microbes have been completed in the past decade. Concurrently, a series of new informatics tools, designed to harness this new wealth of information, have been developed. Some of these new tools allow researchers to select regions of microbial genomes that trigger immune responses. These regions, termed epitopes, are ideal components of vaccines. When the new tools are used to search for epitopes, this search is usually coupled with in vitro screening methods; an approach that has been termed computational immunology or immuno-informatics. Researchers are now implementing these combined methods to scan genomic sequences for vaccine components. They are thereby expanding the number of different proteins that can be screened for vaccine development, while narrowing this search to those regions of the proteins that are extremely likely to induce an immune response. As the tools improve, it may soon be feasible to skip over many of the in vitro screening steps, moving directly from genome sequence to vaccine design. The present article reviews the work of several groups engaged in the development of immuno-informatics tools and illustrates the application of these tools to the process of vaccine discovery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Antigens / immunology
  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • Conserved Sequence
  • Drug Design
  • Epitopes / classification
  • Epitopes / genetics*
  • Epitopes / immunology
  • Genome*
  • Immunodominant Epitopes / immunology
  • Immunologic Techniques*
  • Oligopeptides / analysis
  • Open Reading Frames
  • Vaccines / analysis
  • Vaccines / immunology*
  • Vaccines, DNA / analysis
  • Vaccines, DNA / immunology


  • Antigens
  • Epitopes
  • Immunodominant Epitopes
  • MHC binding peptide
  • Oligopeptides
  • Vaccines
  • Vaccines, DNA