In silico design of recombinant multi-epitope vaccine against influenza A virus

BMC Bioinformatics. 2022 Feb 2;22(Suppl 14):617. doi: 10.1186/s12859-022-04581-6.


Background: Influenza A virus is one of the leading causes of annual mortality. The emerging of novel escape variants of the influenza A virus is still a considerable challenge in the annual process of vaccine production. The evolution of vaccines ranks among the most critical successes in medicine and has eradicated numerous infectious diseases. Recently, multi-epitope vaccines, which are based on the selection of epitopes, have been increasingly investigated.

Results: This study utilized an immunoinformatic approach to design a recombinant multi-epitope vaccine based on a highly conserved epitope of hemagglutinin, neuraminidase, and membrane matrix proteins with fewer changes or mutate over time. The potential B cells, cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL), and CD4 T cell epitopes were identified. The recombinant multi-epitope vaccine was designed using specific linkers and a proper adjuvant. Moreover, some bioinformatics online servers and datasets were used to evaluate the immunogenicity and chemical properties of selected epitopes. In addition, Universal Immune System Simulator (UISS) in silico trial computational framework was run after influenza exposure and recombinant multi-epitope vaccine administration, showing a good immune response in terms of immunoglobulins of class G (IgG), T Helper 1 cells (TH1), epithelial cells (EP) and interferon gamma (IFN-g) levels. Furthermore, after a reverse translation (i.e., convertion of amino acid sequence to nucleotide one) and codon optimization phase, the optimized sequence was placed between the two EcoRV/MscI restriction sites in the PET32a+ vector.

Conclusions: The proposed "Recombinant multi-epitope vaccine" was predicted with unique and acceptable immunological properties. This recombinant multi-epitope vaccine can be successfully expressed in the prokaryotic system and accepted for immunogenicity studies against the influenza virus at the in silico level. The multi-epitope vaccine was then tested with the Universal Immune System Simulator (UISS) in silico trial platform. It revealed slight immune protection against the influenza virus, shedding the light that a multistep bioinformatics approach including molecular and cellular level is mandatory to avoid inappropriate vaccine efficacy predictions.

Keywords: Agent-based model; Epitope prediction; Influenza A; Recombinant vaccine.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte / genetics
  • Humans
  • Influenza A virus* / genetics
  • Influenza Vaccines*
  • Influenza, Human* / prevention & control


  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte
  • Influenza Vaccines