Selection of conserved epitopes from hepatitis C virus for pan-populational stimulation of T-cell responses

Magdalena Molero-Abraham, Esther M. Lafuente, Darren R. Flower, Pedro A. Reche*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is able to persist as a chronic infection, which can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. There is evidence that clearance of HCV is linked to strong responses by CD8 cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs), suggesting that eliciting CTL responses against HCV through an epitope-based vaccine could prove an effective means of immunization. However, HCV genomic plasticity as well as the polymorphisms of HLA I molecules restricting CD8 T-cell responses challenges the selection of epitopes for a widely protective vaccine. Here, we devised an approach to overcome these limitations. From available databases, we first collected a set of 245 HCV-specific CD8 T-cell epitopes, all known to be targeted in the course of a natural infection in humans. After a sequence variability analysis, we next identified 17 highly invariant epitopes. Subsequently, we predicted the epitope HLA I binding profiles that determine their potential presentation and recognition. Finally, using the relevant HLA I-genetic frequencies, we identified various epitope subsets encompassing 6 conserved HCV-specific CTL epitopes each predicted to elicit an effective T-cell response in any individual regardless of their HLA I background. We implemented this epitope selection approach for free public use at the EPISOPT web server.

Original languageEnglish
Article number601943
Number of pages10
JournalClinical and Developmental Immunology
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2013

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2013 Magdalena Molero-Abraham et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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