Identification and characterization of dominant helper T-cell epitopes in the nucleocapsid protein of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus

Journal of Virology
Jincun ZhaoXiao-Ming Gao


By using a series of overlapping synthetic peptides covering 98% of the amino acid sequence of the nucleocapsid protein (NP) of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), four helper T-cell (Th) epitopes (NP11, residues 11 to 25; NP51, residues 51 to 65; NP61, residues 61 to 75; and NP111, residues 111 to 125) in C57BL mice (H-2(b)), four (NP21, residues 21 to 35; NP91, residues 91 to 105; NP331, residues 331 to 345; and NP351, residues 351 to 365) in C3H mice (H-2(k)), and two (NP81, residues 81 to 95; and NP351, residues 351 to 365) in BALB/c mice (H-2(d)) have been identified. All of these peptides were able to stimulate the proliferation of NP-specific T-cell lines or freshly isolated lymph node cells from mice immunized with recombinant NP. Immunization of mice with synthetic peptides containing appropriate Th epitopes elicited strong cellular immunity in vivo, as evidenced by delayed-type hypersensitivity. Priming with the helper peptides (e.g., NP111 and NP351) significantly accelerated the immune response induced by recombinant NP, as determined by the production of NP-specific antibodies. When fused with a conserved neutralizing epitope (SP1143-1157) from the spike protein of SARS-CoV, NP111 and NP351 as...Continue Reading


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