Cell reports. Medicine. 2023-06-20; 4.6: 101088.

Targets and cross-reactivity of human T cell recognition of common cold coronaviruses

Tarke A, Zhang Y, Methot N, Narowski TM, Phillips E, Mallal S, Frazier A, Filaci G, Weiskopf D, Dan JM, Premkumar L, Scheuermann RH, Sette A, Grifoni A

PMID: 37295422


The coronavirus (CoV) family includes several viruses infecting humans, highlighting the importance of exploring pan-CoV vaccine strategies to provide broad adaptive immune protection. We analyze T cell reactivity against representative Alpha (NL63) and Beta (OC43) common cold CoVs (CCCs) in pre-pandemic samples. S, N, M, and nsp3 antigens are immunodominant, as shown for severe acute respiratory syndrome 2 (SARS2), while nsp2 and nsp12 are Alpha or Beta specific. We further identify 78 OC43- and 87 NL63-specific epitopes, and, for a subset of those, we assess the T cell capability to cross-recognize sequences from representative viruses belonging to AlphaCoV, sarbecoCoV, and Beta-non-sarbecoCoV groups. We find T cell cross-reactivity within the Alpha and Beta groups, in 89% of the instances associated with sequence conservation >67%. However, despite conservation, limited cross-reactivity is observed for sarbecoCoV, indicating that previous CoV exposure is a contributing factor in determining cross-reactivity. Overall, these results provide critical insights in developing future pan-CoV vaccines.