Immunoinformatic approach to assess SARS-CoV-2 protein S epitopes recognised by the most frequent MHC-I alleles in the Brazilian population

Ronald Rodrigues De Moura, Almerinda Agrelli, Carlos André Santos-Silva, Natália Silva, Bruno Rodrigo Assunção, Lucas Brandão, Ana Maria Benko-Iseppon, Sergio Crovella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims: Brazil is nowadays one of the epicentres of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic and new therapies are needed to face it. In the context of specific immune response against the virus, a correlation between Major Histocompatibility Complex Class I (MHC-I) and the severity of the disease in patients with COVID-19 has been suggested. Aiming at better understanding the biology of the infection and the immune response against the virus in the Brazilian population, we analysed SARS-CoV-2 protein S peptides in order to identify epitopes able to elicit an immune response mediated by the most frequent MHC-I alleles using in silico methods. Methods: Our analyses consisted in searching for the most frequent Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA)-A, HLA-B and HLA-C alleles in the Brazilian population, excluding the genetic isolates; then, we performed: molecular modelling for unsolved structures, MHC-I binding affinity and antigenicity prediction, peptide docking and molecular dynamics of the best fitted MHC-I/protein S complexes. Results: We identified 24 immunogenic epitopes in the SARS-CoV-2 protein S that could interact with 17 different MHC-I alleles (namely, HLA-A∗01:01; HLA-A∗02:01; HLA-A∗11:01; HLA-A∗24:02; HLA-A∗68:01; HLA-A∗23:01; HLA-A∗26:01; HLA-A∗30:02; HLA-A∗31:01; HLA-B∗07:02; HLA-B∗51:01; HLA-B∗35:01; HLA-B∗44:02; HLA-B∗35:03; HLA-C∗05:01; HLA-C∗07:01 and HLA-C∗15:02) in the Brazilian population. Conclusions: Being aware of the intrinsic limitations of in silico analysis (mainly the differences between the real and the Protein Data Bank (PDB) structure; and accuracy of the methods for simulate proteasome cleavage), we identified 24 epitopes able to interact with 17 MHC-I more frequent alleles in the Brazilian population that could be useful for the development of strategic methods for vaccines against SARS-CoV-2.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Pathology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • computers
  • HLA antigens
  • immunogenetics
  • molecular
  • viruses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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