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Vaccines (Basel) . Identification and Analysis of Unstructured, Linear B-Cell Epitopes in SARS-CoV-2 Virion Proteins for Vaccine Development

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  • Vaccines (Basel) . Identification and Analysis of Unstructured, Linear B-Cell Epitopes in SARS-CoV-2 Virion Proteins for Vaccine Development


    Vaccines (Basel)


    . 2020 Jul 20;8(3):E397.
    doi: 10.3390/vaccines8030397.
    Identification and Analysis of Unstructured, Linear B-Cell Epitopes in SARS-CoV-2 Virion Proteins for Vaccine Development


    Andr?s Corral-Lugo 1 , Mireia L?pez-Siles 1 , Daniel L?pez 2 , Michael J McConnell 1 , Antonio J Martin-Galiano 1



    Affiliations

    Abstract

    The efficacy of SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid-based vaccines may be limited by proteolysis of the translated product due to anomalous protein folding. This may be the case for vaccines employing linear SARS-CoV-2 B-cell epitopes identified in previous studies since most of them participate in secondary structure formation. In contrast, we have employed a consensus of predictors for epitopic zones plus a structural filter for identifying 20 unstructured B-cell epitope-containing loops (uBCELs) in S, M, and N proteins. Phylogenetic comparison suggests epitope switching with respect to SARS-CoV in some of the identified uBCELs. Such events may be associated with the reported lack of serum cross-protection between the 2003 and 2019 pandemic strains. Incipient variability within a sample of 1639 SARS-CoV-2 isolates was also detected for 10 uBCELs which could cause vaccine failure. Intermediate stages of the putative epitope switch events were observed in bat coronaviruses in which additive mutational processes possibly facilitating evasion of the bat immune system appear to have taken place prior to transfer to humans. While there was some overlap between uBCELs and previously validated SARS-CoV B-cell epitopes, multiple uBCELs had not been identified in prior studies. Overall, these uBCELs may facilitate the development of biomedical products for SARS-CoV-2.

    Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV; coronavirus; epitope prediction; epitope switch; immunoinformatics; unfolded protein response.

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