Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus (PRRSV) is the causative agent of one of the most important porcine diseases with a high impact on animal health, welfare, and production economy. PRRSV exhibits a multitude of immunoevasive strategies that, in combination with a very high mutation rate, has hampered the development of safe and broadly protective vaccines. Aiming at a vaccine inducing an effective cytotoxic T cell response, a bioinformatics approach was taken to identify conserved PRRSV-derived peptides predicted to react broadly with common swine leukocyte antigen (SLA) class I alleles. Briefly, all possible 9- and 10-mer peptides were generated from 104 complete PRRSV type 2 genomes of confirmed high quality, and peptides with high binding affinity to five common SLAs were identified combining the NetMHCpan and positional scanning combinatorial peptide libraries binding predictions. Predicted binders were prioritized according to genomic conservation and SLA coverage using the PopCover algorithm. From this, 53 peptides were acquired for further analysis. Binding affinity and stability of a subset of 101 peptide-SLA combinations were validated in vitro for 4 of the 5 SLAs. Eventually, 23% of the predicted peptide-SLA combinations showed to form complexes with a dissociation half-life ≥30 min. Additionally, combining the two prediction methods proved to be more robust across alleles than either method used alone in terms of predicted-to-observed correlations. In summary, our approach represents a finely tuned epitope prediction pipeline providing a rationally selected ensemble of peptides for future in vivo experiments with pigs expressing the included SLAs.
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- Cytotoxic T lymphocytes
- Positional scanning combinatorial peptide library (PSCPL)
- Swine leukocyte antigen