Screening of HLA-A restricted T cell epitopes of SARS-CoV-2 and induction of CD8+ T cell responses in HLA-A transgenic mice
Posted 01 Apr 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.04.01.438020
Posted 01 Apr 2021
While SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells have been characterized to play essential roles in host immune protection in COVID-19 patients, few researches focus on the functional validation of T cell epitopes and development of vaccines inducing specific T cell responses. In this study, 120 CD8 T cell epitopes from E, M, N, S and RdRp proteins were validated. Among them, 110 epitopes have not been reported previously; 110, 15, 6, 14 and 12 epitopes were highly homologous with SARS-CoV, OC43, NL63, HKU1, and 229E, respectively; 4 epitopes from S protein displayed one amino acid distinct from the current variants of SARS-CoV-2. Thirty-one epitopes restricted by HLA-A2 molecule were used to generate peptide cocktail vaccines in combination with Poly I:C, R848 or polylactic-co-glycolic acid nanoparticles, which elicited robust specific CD8 T cell responses in wild-type and HLA-A2DR1 transgenic mice. Seven of the 31 epitopes were found to be cross-presented by HLA-A2 and H-2KDb molecules. Unlike previous researches, this study established a modified cell co-culture system of DC-peptide-PBL using healthy donors PBMCs to validate the CD8 T cell epitope on-silicon predicted; provided a library of CD8 T cell epitopes restricted by a series of high-frequency HLA-A allotypes which covering broad Asian populations; identified the HLA-A cross-restrictions of these CD8 T cell epitopes using competitive binding experiments with HMy2.CIR cell lines expressing indicated HLA-A molecules; and initially confirmed the in vivo feasibility of 9 or 10-mer peptide cocktail vaccines of SARS-CoV-2. These data will facilitate the development of vaccines inducing antiviral CD8 T cell responses.
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