Potential CD8+ T Cell Cross-Reactivity Against SARS-CoV-2 Conferred by Other Coronavirus Strains.
Lee CH., Pinho MP., Buckley PR., Woodhouse IB., Ogg G., Simmons A., Napolitani G., Koohy H.
While individuals infected with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) manifested a broad range in susceptibility and severity to the disease, the pre-existing immune memory to related pathogens cross-reactive against SARS-CoV-2 can influence the disease outcome in COVID-19. Here, we investigated the potential extent of T cell cross-reactivity against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that can be conferred by other coronaviruses and influenza virus, and generated an in silico map of public and private CD8+ T cell epitopes between coronaviruses. We observed 794 predicted SARS-CoV-2 epitopes of which 52% were private and 48% were public. Ninety-nine percent of the public epitopes were shared with SARS-CoV and 5.4% were shared with either one of four common coronaviruses, 229E, HKU1, NL63, and OC43. Moreover, to assess the potential risk of self-reactivity and/or diminished T cell response for peptides identical or highly similar to the host, we identified predicted epitopes with high sequence similarity with human proteome. Lastly, we compared predicted epitopes from coronaviruses with epitopes from influenza virus deposited in IEDB, and found only a small number of peptides with limited potential for cross-reactivity between the two virus families. We believe our comprehensive in silico profile of private and public epitopes across coronaviruses would facilitate design of vaccines, and provide insights into the presence of pre-existing coronavirus-specific memory CD8+ T cells that may influence immune responses against SARS-CoV-2.