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1.
Brief Bioinform ; 2022 Jun 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1873849

ABSTRACT

Rational vaccine design, especially vaccine antigen identification and optimization, is critical to successful and efficient vaccine development against various infectious diseases including coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In general, computational vaccine design includes three major stages: (i) identification and annotation of experimentally verified gold standard protective antigens through literature mining, (ii) rational vaccine design using reverse vaccinology (RV) and structural vaccinology (SV) and (iii) post-licensure vaccine success and adverse event surveillance and its usage for vaccine design. Protegen is a database of experimentally verified protective antigens, which can be used as gold standard data for rational vaccine design. RV predicts protective antigen targets primarily from genome sequence analysis. SV refines antigens through structural engineering. Recently, RV and SV approaches, with the support of various machine learning methods, have been applied to COVID-19 vaccine design. The analysis of post-licensure vaccine adverse event report data also provides valuable results in terms of vaccine safety and how vaccines should be used or paused. Ontology standardizes and incorporates heterogeneous data and knowledge in a human- and computer-interpretable manner, further supporting machine learning and vaccine design. Future directions on rational vaccine design are discussed.

2.
EuropePMC; 2020.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-324770

ABSTRACT

Given the existing COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, it is critical to systematically study the interactions between hosts and coronaviruses including SARS-Cov, MERS-Cov, and SARS-CoV-2 (cause of COVID-19). We first created four host-pathogen interaction (HPI)-Outcome postulates, and generated a HPI-Outcome model as the basis for understanding host-coronavirus interactions (HCI) and their relations with the disease outcomes. We hypothesized that ontology can be used as an integrative platform to classify and analyze HCI and disease outcomes. Accordingly, we annotated and categorized different coronaviruses, hosts, and phenotypes using ontologies and identified their relations. Various COVID-19 phenotypes are hypothesized to be caused by the backend HCI mechanisms. To further identify the causal HCI-outcome relations, we collected 35 experimentally-verified HCI protein-protein interactions (PPIs), and applied literature mining to identify additional host PPIs in response to coronavirus infections. The results were formulated in a logical ontology representation for integrative HCI-outcome understanding. Using known PPIs as baits, we also developed and applied a domain-inferred prediction method to predict new PPIs and identified their pathological targets on multiple organs. Overall, our proposed ontology-based integrative framework combined with computational predictions can be used to support fundamental understanding of the intricate interactions between human patients and coronaviruses (including SARS-CoV-2) and their association with various disease outcomes.

3.
Methods Mol Biol ; 2414: 1-16, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1516809

ABSTRACT

Reverse vaccinology (RV) is the state-of-the-art vaccine development strategy that starts with predicting vaccine antigens by bioinformatics analysis of the whole genome of a pathogen of interest. Vaxign is the first web-based RV vaccine prediction method based on calculating and filtering different criteria of proteins. Vaxign-ML is a new Vaxign machine learning (ML) method that predicts vaccine antigens based on extreme gradient boosting with the advance of new technologies and cumulation of protective antigen data. Using a benchmark dataset, Vaxign-ML showed superior performance in comparison to existing open-source RV tools. Vaxign-ML is also implemented within the web-based Vaxign platform to support easy and intuitive access. Vaxign-ML is also available as a command-based software package for more advanced and customizable vaccine antigen prediction. Both Vaxign and Vaxign-ML have been applied to predict SARS-CoV-2 (cause of COVID-19) and Brucella vaccine antigens to demonstrate the integrative approach to analyze and select vaccine candidates using the Vaxign platform.


Subject(s)
Machine Learning , Vaccines , Vaccinology , Brucella Vaccine , COVID-19 , COVID-19 Vaccines , Computational Biology , Humans
4.
Vaccines (Basel) ; 9(10)2021 Sep 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1481029

ABSTRACT

Tuberculosis (TB) is the leading cause of death of any single infectious agent, having led to 1.4 million deaths in 2019 alone. Moreover, an estimated one-quarter of the global population is latently infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB), presenting a huge pool of potential future disease. Nonetheless, the only currently licensed TB vaccine fails to prevent the activation of latent TB infections (LTBI). These facts together illustrate the desperate need for a more effective TB vaccine strategy that can prevent both primary infection and the activation of LTBI. In this study, we employed a machine learning-based reverse vaccinology approach to predict the likelihood that each protein within the proteome of MTB laboratory reference strain H37Rv would be a protective antigen (PAg). The proteins predicted most likely to be a PAg were assessed for their belonging to a protein family of previously established PAgs, the relevance of their biological processes to MTB virulence and latency, and finally the immunogenic potential that they may provide in terms of the number of promiscuous epitopes within each. This study led to the identification of 16 proteins with the greatest vaccine potential for further in vitro and in vivo studies. It also demonstrates the value of computational methods in vaccine development.

5.
Nucleic Acids Res ; 49(W1): W671-W678, 2021 07 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1233864

ABSTRACT

Vaccination is one of the most significant inventions in medicine. Reverse vaccinology (RV) is a state-of-the-art technique to predict vaccine candidates from pathogen's genome(s). To promote vaccine development, we updated Vaxign2, the first web-based vaccine design program using reverse vaccinology with machine learning. Vaxign2 is a comprehensive web server for rational vaccine design, consisting of predictive and computational workflow components. The predictive part includes the original Vaxign filtering-based method and a new machine learning-based method, Vaxign-ML. The benchmarking results using a validation dataset showed that Vaxign-ML had superior prediction performance compared to other RV tools. Besides the prediction component, Vaxign2 implemented various post-prediction analyses to significantly enhance users' capability to refine the prediction results based on different vaccine design rationales and considerably reduce user time to analyze the Vaxign/Vaxign-ML prediction results. Users provide proteome sequences as input data, select candidates based on Vaxign outputs and Vaxign-ML scores, and perform post-prediction analysis. Vaxign2 also includes precomputed results from approximately 1 million proteins in 398 proteomes of 36 pathogens. As a demonstration, Vaxign2 was used to effectively analyse SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus causing COVID-19. The comprehensive framework of Vaxign2 can support better and more rational vaccine design. Vaxign2 is publicly accessible at http://www.violinet.org/vaxign2.


Subject(s)
Drug Design , Internet , Machine Learning , Software , Vaccines , Vaccinology/methods , Antigens, Viral/chemistry , Antigens, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/virology , COVID-19 Vaccines/chemistry , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , Epitopes/chemistry , Epitopes/immunology , Humans , Proteome , SARS-CoV-2/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Vaccines/chemistry , Vaccines/immunology , Workflow
6.
Comput Struct Biotechnol J ; 19: 518-529, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1002467

ABSTRACT

The development of effective and safe vaccines is the ultimate way to efficiently stop the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Built on the fact that SARS-CoV-2 utilizes the association of its Spike (S) protein with the human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor to invade host cells, we computationally redesigned the S protein sequence to improve its immunogenicity and antigenicity. Toward this purpose, we extended an evolutionary protein design algorithm, EvoDesign, to create thousands of stable S protein variants that perturb the core protein sequence but keep the surface conformation and B cell epitopes. The T cell epitope content and similarity scores of the perturbed sequences were calculated and evaluated. Out of 22,914 designs with favorable stability energy, 301 candidates contained at least two pre-existing immunity-related epitopes and had promising immunogenic potential. The benchmark tests showed that, although the epitope restraints were not included in the scoring function of EvoDesign, the top S protein design successfully recovered 31 out of the 32 major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-II T cell promiscuous epitopes in the native S protein, where two epitopes were present in all seven human coronaviruses. Moreover, the newly designed S protein introduced nine new MHC-II T cell promiscuous epitopes that do not exist in the wildtype SARS-CoV-2. These results demonstrated a new and effective avenue to enhance a target protein's immunogenicity using rational protein design, which could be applied for new vaccine design against COVID-19 and other pathogens.

7.
Front Immunol ; 11: 1581, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-688990

ABSTRACT

To ultimately combat the emerging COVID-19 pandemic, it is desired to develop an effective and safe vaccine against this highly contagious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Our literature and clinical trial survey showed that the whole virus, as well as the spike (S) protein, nucleocapsid (N) protein, and membrane (M) protein, have been tested for vaccine development against SARS and MERS. However, these vaccine candidates might lack the induction of complete protection and have safety concerns. We then applied the Vaxign and the newly developed machine learning-based Vaxign-ML reverse vaccinology tools to predict COVID-19 vaccine candidates. Our Vaxign analysis found that the SARS-CoV-2 N protein sequence is conserved with SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV but not from the other four human coronaviruses causing mild symptoms. By investigating the entire proteome of SARS-CoV-2, six proteins, including the S protein and five non-structural proteins (nsp3, 3CL-pro, and nsp8-10), were predicted to be adhesins, which are crucial to the viral adhering and host invasion. The S, nsp3, and nsp8 proteins were also predicted by Vaxign-ML to induce high protective antigenicity. Besides the commonly used S protein, the nsp3 protein has not been tested in any coronavirus vaccine studies and was selected for further investigation. The nsp3 was found to be more conserved among SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV, and MERS-CoV than among 15 coronaviruses infecting human and other animals. The protein was also predicted to contain promiscuous MHC-I and MHC-II T-cell epitopes, and the predicted linear B-cell epitopes were found to be localized on the surface of the protein. Our predicted vaccine targets have the potential for effective and safe COVID-19 vaccine development. We also propose that an "Sp/Nsp cocktail vaccine" containing a structural protein(s) (Sp) and a non-structural protein(s) (Nsp) would stimulate effective complementary immune responses.


Subject(s)
Betacoronavirus , Coronavirus Infections , Machine Learning , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral , Viral Vaccines , Animals , Betacoronavirus/genetics , Betacoronavirus/immunology , COVID-19 , COVID-19 Vaccines , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Coronavirus Infections/genetics , Coronavirus Infections/immunology , Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control , Epitopes, B-Lymphocyte/genetics , Epitopes, B-Lymphocyte/immunology , Humans , Immunogenicity, Vaccine , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/genetics , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/immunology , Pandemics/prevention & control , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Pneumonia, Viral/genetics , Pneumonia, Viral/immunology , Pneumonia, Viral/prevention & control , SARS-CoV-2 , Viral Proteins/genetics , Viral Proteins/immunology , Viral Vaccines/genetics , Viral Vaccines/immunology
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