Turkish Journal of Biology




Human SARS coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) causes the current global COVID-19 pandemic. The production of an efficient vaccine against COVID-19 is under heavy investigation. In this study, we have designed a novel multiepitope DNA vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 using reverse vaccinology and DNA vaccine approaches. Applying these strategies led to reduce the time and costs of vaccine development and also improve the immune protective characteristics of the vaccine. For this purpose, epitopes of nucleocapsid, membrane glycoprotein, and ORF8 proteins of SARS-CoV-2 chose as targets for B and T-cell receptors. Accordingly, DNA sequences of selected epitopes have optimized for protein expression in the eukaryotic system. To this end, the Kozak and tissue plasminogen activator sequences were added into the epitope sequences for proper protein expression and secretion, respectively. Furthermore, interleukin-2 and beta-defensin 1 preproprotein sequences were incorporated to the designed DNA vaccine as an adjuvant. Modeling and refinement of fused protein composed of SARS-CoV-2 multiepitope antigens (fuspMA) have performed based on homology modeling of orthologous peptides, then constructed 3D model of fuspMA was more investigated during 50 ns of molecular dynamics simulation. Further bioinformatics predictions demonstrated that fuspMA is a stable protein with acceptable antigenic features and no allergenicity or toxicity characteristics. Finally, the affinity of fuspMA to the MHC I and II and TLRs molecules validated by the molecular docking procedure. In conclusion, it seems the designed multiepitope DNA vaccine could have a chance to be introduced as an efficient vaccine against COVID-19 after more in vivo evaluations.

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