BACKGROUND Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) linked with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) cause severe illness and life-threatening pneumonia in humans . The current COVID-19 pandemic demands an effective vaccine to acquire protection against the infection . Therefore, the present study was aimed to design a multiepitope-based subunit vaccine (MESV) against COVID-19 .
METHODS Structural proteins (Surface glycoprotein, Envelope protein, and Membrane glycoprotein) of SARS-CoV-2 are responsible for its prime functions . Sequences of proteins were downloaded from GenBank and several immunoinformatics coupled with computational approaches were employed to forecast B- and T- cell epitopes from the SARS-CoV-2 highly antigenic structural proteins to design an effective MESV .
RESULTS Predicted epitopes suggested high antigenicity, conserveness, substantial interactions with the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) binding alleles, and collective global population coverage of 88.40% . Taken together , 276 amino acids long MESV was designed by connecting 3 cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL), 6 helper T lymphocyte (HTL) and 4 B-cell epitopes with suitable adjuvant and linkers . The MESV construct was non-allergenic, stable, and highly antigenic . Molecular docking showed a stable and high binding affinity of MESV with human pathogenic toll-like receptors-3 (TLR3). Furthermore, in silico immune simulation revealed significant immunogenic response of MESV . Finally, MEV codons were optimized for its in silico cloning into the Escherichia coli K-12 system, to ensure its increased expression .
CONCLUSION The MESV developed in this study is capable of generating immune response against COVID-19 . Therefore, if designed MESV further investigated experimentally, it would be an effective vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2 to control and prevent COVID-19.