Towards the knowledge-based design of universal influenza epitope ensemble vaccines

Qamar M. Sheikh, Derek Gatherer, Pedro A. Reche, Darren R. Flower*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Motivation: Influenza A viral heterogeneity remains a significant threat due to unpredictable antigenic drift in seasonal influenza and antigenic shifts caused by the emergence of novel subtypes. Annual review of multivalent influenza vaccines targets strains of influenza A and B likely to be predominant in future influenza seasons. This does not induce broad, cross protective immunity against emergent subtypes. Better strategies are needed to prevent future pandemics. Cross-protection can be achieved by activating CD8+ and CD4+ T cells against highly-conserved regions of the influenza genome. We combine available experimental data with informatics-based immunological predictions to help design vaccines potentially able to induce cross-protective T-cells against multiple influenza subtypes.
Results: To exemplify our approach we designed two epitope ensemble vaccines comprising highly-conserved and experimentally-verified immunogenic influenza A epitopes as putative non-seasonal influenza vaccines; one specifically targets the US population and the other is a universal vaccine. The USA-specific vaccine comprised 6 CD8+ T cell epitopes (GILGFVFTL, FMYSDFHFI, GMDPRMCSL, SVKEKDMTK, FYIQMCTEL, DTVNRTHQY) and 3 CD4+ epitopes (KGILGFVFTLTVPSE, EYIMKGVYINTALLN, ILGFVFTLTVPSERG). The universal vaccine comprised 8 CD8+ epitopes: (FMYSDFHFI, GILGFVFTL, ILRGSVAHK, FYIQMCTEL, ILKGKFQTA, YYLEKANKI, VSDGGPNLY, YSHGTGTGY) and the same 3 CD4+ epitopes. Our USA-specific vaccine has a population protection coverage (portion of the population potentially responsive to one or more component epitopes of the vaccine, PPC) of over 96% and 95% coverage of observed influenza subtypes. The universal vaccine has a PPC value of over 97% and 88% coverage of observed subtypes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3233-3239
Number of pages7
Issue number21
Early online date10 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2016. Published by Oxford University Press. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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