Defining antigen targets to dissect vaccinia virus and monkeypox virus-specific T cell responses in humans

Cell Host Microbe. 2022 Dec 14;30(12):1662-1670.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2022.11.003. Epub 2022 Dec 3.


The monkeypox virus (MPXV) outbreak confirmed in May 2022 in non-endemic countries is raising concern about the pandemic potential of novel orthopoxviruses. Little is known regarding MPXV immunity in the context of MPXV infection or vaccination with vaccinia-based vaccines (VACV). As with vaccinia, T cells are likely to provide an important contribution to overall immunity to MPXV. Here, we leveraged the epitope information available in the Immune Epitope Database (IEDB) on VACV to predict potential MPXV targets recognized by CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses. We found a high degree of conservation between VACV epitopes and MPXV and defined T cell immunodominant targets. These analyses enabled the design of peptide pools able to experimentally detect VACV-specific T cell responses and MPXV cross-reactive T cells in a cohort of vaccinated individuals. Our findings will facilitate the monitoring of cellular immunity following MPXV infection and vaccination.

Keywords: MPXV; T cell epitope; VACV; infectious disease; monkeypox; mpox; orthopoxvirus; sequence conservation; vaccinia virus.

MeSH terms

  • Epitopes
  • Humans
  • Monkeypox virus / physiology
  • Mpox (monkeypox)*
  • Vaccinia virus
  • Vaccinia*


  • Epitopes