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Mutations in spike protein T cell epitopes of SARS-COV-2 variants: Plausible influence on vaccine efficacy
S. Sankaranarayanan, M. Mohkhedkar,
Published in Elsevier B.V.
2022
PMID: 35568352
Volume: 1868
   
Issue: 9
Abstract
With emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants, vaccines approved so far are under scrutiny for long term effectiveness against the circulating strains. There is a prevalent obsession with humoral immunity as in vitro studies have indicated diminished effects of vaccine-induced neutralizing antibodies. However, this need not clinically translate to vaccine resistance as immune response against all forms of present vaccine preparations is T dependent unlike that against native viral particles which can induce T independent immune responses. Thus, we focused on this major correlate of protection against infections, T cell response. Using bioinformatics tools, we analyzed SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein T cell epitopes and their diversity across Delta plus/B.1.617.2.1, Gamma/P.1 (variant of concern), B.1.1.429, Zeta/P.2 and Mink cluster 5/B.1.1.298 variants as well as Omicron/B.1.1.529 (variant of concern). We also compared HLA restriction profiles of the mutant epitopes with that of the native epitopes (from Wuhan_hu_1 strain, used in vaccine formulations). Our observations show ~90% conservation of CD4+ and CD8+ epitopes across Delta plus/B.1.617.2.1, Gamma/P.1 (variant of concern), B.1.1.429, Zeta/P.2 and Mink cluster 5/B.1.1.298. For the Omicron/B.1.1.529 variant, ~75% of CD4+ and ~ 87% CD8+ epitopes were conserved. Majority of the mutated CD4+ and CD8+ epitopes of this variant were predicted to retain the HLA restriction pattern as their native epitopes. The results of our bioinformatics analysis suggest largely conserved T cell responses across the studied variants, ability of T cells to tackle new SARS-CoV-2 variants and aid in protection from COVID-19 post vaccination. In conclusion, the results suggest that current vaccines may not be rendered completely ineffective against new variants. © 2022
About the journal
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Basis of Disease
PublisherElsevier B.V.
ISSN09254439