Finding conservative T cell epitopes in the proteome of SARS-COV-2 strains is required to develop T cell activating vaccines. The epitopes could be presented to T cells by high-affinity HLA molecules which are encoded by the HLA alleles.
Background: Finding conservative T cell epitopes in the proteome of numerous variants of SARS-COV-2 is required to develop T cell activating SARS-COV-2 capable of inducing T cell responses against SARS-COV-2 variants. Methods: A computational workflow was performed to find HLA restricted CD8+ and CD4+ T cell epitopes among conserved amino acid sequences across the proteome of 474727 SARS-CoV-2 strains. Results: A batch of covserved regions in the amino acid sequences were found in the proteome of the SARS-COV-2 strains. 2852 and 847 peptides were predicted to have high binding affinity to distint HLA class I and class II molecules. Among them, 1456 and 484 peptides are antigenic. 392 and 111 of the antigenic peptides were found in the conseved amino acid sequences. Among the antigenic-conserved peptides, 6 CD8+ T cell epitopes and 7 CD4+ T cell epitopes were identifed. The T cell epitopes could be presented to T cells by high-affinity HLA molecules which are encoded by the HLA alleles with high population coverage. Conclusions: The T cell epitopes are conservative, antigenic and HLA presentable, and could be constructed into SARS-COV-2 vaccines for inducing protective T cell immunity against SARS-COV-2 and their variants.