Despite the eradication in 1980, developing safe and effective smallpox vaccines remains an active area of research due to the recent outbreaks and the public health concern that smallpox viruses could be used as bioterrorism weapons. Identifying immunogenic peptides (epitopes) would create a foundation for the development of a robust peptide-based vaccine. We previously identified a library of naturally-processed, human leukocyte antigen class I-presented vaccinia-derived peptides from infected B cells. In the current study, we evaluated the immunogenicity of these T-cell peptides in both transgenic mouse models and human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. A vaccine based on four selected peptides provided 100% protection against a lethal viral challenge. In addition, responses from memory T cells remained unchanged up to five months. Our results validate a practical approach for identifying and verifying immunogenic peptides for vaccine development and highlight the potential of peptide-based vaccines for various infectious diseases.
ASJC Scopus subject areas