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Virology. 2005 Apr 25;335(1):34-45.

Identification of murine CD8 T cell epitopes in codon-optimized SARS-associated coronavirus spike protein.

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Gene Therapy Program, Division of Medical Genetics, Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Health System, and The Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


The causative agent of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) has been identified as a new type of coronavirus, SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV). CD8 T cells play an important role in controlling diseases caused by other coronaviruses and in mediating vaccine-induced protective immunity in corresponding animal models. The spike protein, a main surface antigen of SARS-CoV, is one of the most important antigen candidates for vaccine design. Overlapping peptides were used to identify major histocompatibility complex class I-restricted epitopes in mice immunized with vectors encoding codon-optimized SARS-CoV spike protein. CD8 T-cell responses were mapped to two H-2(b)-restricted epitopes (S436-443 and S525-532) and one H-2(d)-restricted epitope (S366-374). The identification of these epitopes will facilitate the evaluation of vaccine strategies in murine models of SARS-CoV infection. Furthermore, codon and promoter optimizations can greatly enhance the overall immunogenicity of spike protein in the context of replication-defective human and simian adenoviral vaccine carriers. The optimized recombinant adenoviral vaccine vectors encoding spike can generate robust antigen-specific cellular immunity in mice and may potentially be useful for control of SARS-CoV infection.

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