Identification of cross-reacting T-cell epitopes in structural and non-structural proteins of swine and pandemic H1N1 influenza A virus strains in pigs

Heterologous protection against swine influenza viruses (SwIVs) of different lineages is an important concern for the pig industry. Cross-protection between 'avian-like' H1N1 and 2009 pandemic H1N1 lineages has been observed previously, indicating the involvement of cross-reacting T-cells. Here, reverse vaccinology was applied to identify cross-reacting MHC class I T-cell epitopes from two different SwIV H1 lineages in pigs. In silico prediction followed by in vitro and in vivo testing was used to identify SLA-1*0702 T-cell epitopes in heterologous SwIV-infected pigs. Following viral infection, tetramer specific T-cell populations were identified. The majority of the identified T-cell epitopes were conserved between the examined lineages, suggesting that targeting cross-reactive T-cell epitopes could be used to improve vaccines against SwIV in SLA-1*0702-positive pigs.

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