An immunoinformatics and extended molecular dynamics approach for designing a polyvalent vaccine against multiple strains of Human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV)

by | Sep 8, 2023 | Publications

PLoS One. 2023 Sep 8;18(9):e0287416. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0287416. eCollection 2023.


Human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV), a group of retroviruses belonging to the oncovirus family, has long been associated with various inflammatory and immunosuppressive disorders. At present, there is no approved vaccine capable of effectively combating all the highly pathogenic strains of HTLV that makes this group of viruses a potential threat to human health. To combat the devastating impact of any potential future outbreak caused by this virus group, our study employed a reverse vaccinology approach to design a novel polyvalent vaccine targeting the highly virulent subtypes of HTLV. Moreover, we comprehensively analyzed the molecular interactions between the designed vaccine and corresponding Toll-like receptors (TLRs), providing valuable insights for future research on preventing and managing HTLV-related diseases and any possible outbreaks. The vaccine was designed by focusing on the envelope glycoprotein gp62, a crucial protein involved in the infectious process and immune mechanisms of HTLV inside the human body. Epitope mapping identified T cell and B cell epitopes with low binding energies, ensuring their immunogenicity and safety. Linkers and adjuvants were incorporated to enhance the vaccine’s stability, antigenicity, and immunogenicity. Initially, two vaccine constructs were formulated, and among them, vaccine construct-2 exhibited superior solubility and structural stability. Molecular docking analyses also revealed strong binding affinity between the vaccine construct-2 and both targeted TLR2 and TLR4. Molecular dynamics simulations demonstrated enhanced stability, compactness, and consistent hydrogen bonding within TLR-vaccine complexes, suggesting a strong binding affinity. The stability of the complexes was further corroborated by contact, free energy, structure, and MM-PBSA analyses. Consequently, our research proposes a vaccine targeting multiple HTLV subtypes, offering valuable insights into the molecular interactions between the vaccine and TLRs. These findings should contribute to developing effective preventive and treatment approaches against HTLV-related diseases and preventing possible outbreaks. However, future research should focus on in-depth validation through experimental studies to confirm the interactions identified in silico and to evaluate the vaccine’s efficacy in relevant animal models and, eventually, in clinical trials.

PMID:37682972 | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0287416

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