Pathogens 2020; 9(12)

Computational Analysis of African Swine Fever Virus Protein Space for the Design of an Epitope-Based Vaccine Ensemble.

Ros-Lucas A, Correa-Fiz F, Bosch-Camós L, Rodríguez F, Alonso-Padilla J
African swine fever virus is the etiological agent of African swine fever, a transmissible severe hemorrhagic disease that affects pigs, causing massive economic losses. There is neither a treatment nor a vaccine available, and the only method to control its spread is by extensive culling of pigs. So far, classical vaccine development approaches have not yielded sufficiently good results in terms of concomitant safety and efficacy. Nowadays, thanks to advances in genomic and proteomic techniques, a reverse vaccinology strategy can be explored to design alternative vaccine formulations. In this study, ASFV protein sequences were analyzed using an in-house pipeline based on publicly available immunoinformatic tools to identify epitopes of interest for a prospective vaccine ensemble. These included experimentally validated sequences from the Immune Epitope Database, as well as de novo predicted sequences. Experimentally validated and predicted epitopes were prioritized following a series of criteria that included evolutionary conservation, presence in the virulent and currently circulating variant Georgia 2007/1, and lack of identity to either the pig proteome or putative proteins from pig gut microbiota. Following this strategy, 29 B-cell, 14 CD4+ T-cell and 6 CD8+ T-cell epitopes were selected, which represent a starting point to investigating the protective capacity of ASFV epitope-based vaccines.