In silico identification of vaccine targets for 2019-nCoV.
Lee CH., Koohy H.
Background: The newly identified coronavirus known as 2019-nCoV has posed a serious global health threat. According to the latest report (18-February-2020), it has infected more than 72,000 people globally and led to deaths of more than 1,016 people in China. Methods: The 2019 novel coronavirus proteome was aligned to a curated database of viral immunogenic peptides. The immunogenicity of detected peptides and their binding potential to HLA alleles was predicted by immunogenicity predictive models and NetMHCpan 4.0. Results: We report in silico identification of a comprehensive list of immunogenic peptides that can be used as potential targets for 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) vaccine development. First, we found 28 nCoV peptides identical to Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (SARS CoV) that have previously been characterized immunogenic by T cell assays. Second, we identified 48 nCoV peptides having a high degree of similarity with immunogenic peptides deposited in The Immune Epitope Database (IEDB). Lastly, we conducted a de novo search of 2019-nCoV 9-mer peptides that i) bind to common HLA alleles in Chinese and European population and ii) have T Cell Receptor (TCR) recognition potential by positional weight matrices and a recently developed immunogenicity algorithm, iPred, and identified in total 63 peptides with a high immunogenicity potential. Conclusions: Given the limited time and resources to develop vaccine and treatments for 2019-nCoV, our work provides a shortlist of candidates for experimental validation and thus can accelerate development pipeline.