The coronavirus pandemic is a major public health crisis affecting global health systems with dire socioeconomic consequences, especially in vulnerable regions such as Latin America (LATAM). There is an urgent need for a vaccine to help control contagion, reduce mortality and alleviate social costs. In this study, we propose a rational multi-epitope candidate vaccine against SARS-CoV-2. Using bioinformatics, we constructed a library of potential vaccine peptides, based on the affinity of the most common major human histocompatibility complex (HLA) I and II molecules in the LATAM population to predict immunological complexes among antigenic, non-toxic and non-allergenic peptides extracted from the conserved regions of 92 proteomes. Although HLA-C, had the greatest antigenic peptide capacity from SARS-CoV-2, HLA-B and HLA-A, could be more relevant based on COVID-19 risk of infection in LATAM countries. We also used three-dimensional structures of SARS-CoV-2 proteins to identify potential regions for antibody production. The best HLA-I and II predictions (with increased coverage in common alleles and regions evoking B lymphocyte responses) were grouped into an optimized final multi-epitope construct containing the adjuvants Beta defensin-3, TpD, and PADRE, which are recognized for invoking a safe and specific immune response. Finally, we used Molecular Dynamics to identify the multi-epitope construct which may be a stable target for TLR-4/MD-2. This would prove to be safe and provide the physicochemical requirements for conducting experimental tests around the world.
Keywords: LATAM; SARS-CoV-2; in silico; vaccine.