Design of an Epitope-Based Vaccine Ensemble for Animal Trypanosomiasis by Computational Methods

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African animal trypanosomiasis is caused by vector-transmitted parasites of the genus Trypanosoma. T. congolense and T. brucei brucei are predominant in Africa; T. evansi and T. vivax in America and Asia. They have in common an extracellular lifestyle and livestock tropism, which provokes huge economic losses in regions where vectors are endemic. There are licensed drugs to treat the infections, but adherence to treatment is poor and appearance of resistances common. Therefore, the availability of a prophylactic vaccine would represent a major breakthrough towards the management and control of the disease. Selection of the most appropriate antigens for its development is a bottleneck step, especially considering the limited resources allocated. Herein we propose a vaccine strategy based on multiple epitopes from multiple antigens to counteract the parasites´ biological complexity. Epitopes were identified by computer-assisted genome-wide screenings, considering sequence conservation criteria, antigens annotation and sub-cellular localization, high binding affinity to antigen presenting molecules, and lack of cross-reactivity to proteins in cattle and other breeding species. We ultimately provide 31 B-cell, 8 CD4 T-cell, and 15 CD8 T-cell epitope sequences from 30 distinct antigens for the prospective design of a genetic ensemble vaccine against the four trypanosome species responsible for African animal trypanosomiasis.