Design an Efficient Multi-Epitope Peptide Vaccine Candidate Against SARS-CoV-2: An in silico Analysis

Infect Drug Resist. 2020 Aug 25;13:3007-3022. doi: 10.2147/IDR.S264573. eCollection 2020.


Background: To date, no specific vaccine or drug has been proven to be effective against SARS-CoV-2 infection. Therefore, we implemented an immunoinformatic approach to design an efficient multi-epitopes vaccine against SARS-CoV-2.

Results: The designed-vaccine construct consists of several immunodominant epitopes from structural proteins of spike, nucleocapsid, membrane, and envelope. These peptides promote cellular and humoral immunity and interferon-gamma responses. Also, these epitopes have a high antigenic capacity and are not likely to cause allergies. To enhance the vaccine immunogenicity, we used three potent adjuvants: Flagellin of Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serovar Dublin, a driven peptide from high mobility group box 1 as HP-91, and human beta-defensin 3 protein. The physicochemical and immunological properties of the vaccine structure were evaluated. The tertiary structure of the vaccine protein was predicted and refined by Phyre2 and Galaxi refine and validated using RAMPAGE and ERRAT. Results of ElliPro showed 246 sresidues from vaccine might be conformational B-cell epitopes. Docking of the vaccine with toll-like receptors (TLR) 3, 5, 8, and angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 approved an appropriate interaction between the vaccine and receptors. Prediction of mRNA secondary structure and in silico cloning demonstrated that the vaccine can be efficiently expressed in Escherichia coli.

Conclusion: Our results demonstrated that the multi-epitope vaccine might be potentially antigenic and induce humoral and cellular immune responses against SARS-CoV-2. This vaccine can interact appropriately with the TLR3, 5, and 8. Also, it has a high-quality structure and suitable characteristics such as high stability and potential for expression in Escherichia coli .

Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; adjuvant; cellular immunity; humoral immunity; multi-epitope vaccine; structural proteins.

Grant support

This study received a small grant (Grant no: 7252) from the Research and Technology deputy of Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences.