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Comprehensive analysis of T cell immunodominance and immunoprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 epitopes in COVID-19 cases


T cells are involved in control of SARS-CoV-2 infection. To establish the patterns of immunodominance of different SARS-CoV-2 antigens, and precisely measure virus-specific CD4 + and CD8 + T cells, we studied epitope-specific T cell responses of approximately 100 convalescent COVID-19 cases. The SARS-CoV-2 proteome was probed using 1,925 peptides spanning the entire genome, ensuring an unbiased coverage of HLA alleles for class II responses. For HLA class I, we studied an additional 5,600 predicted binding epitopes for 28 prominent HLA class I alleles, accounting for wide global coverage. We identified several hundred HLA-restricted SARS-CoV-2-derived epitopes. Distinct patterns of immunodominance were observed, which differed for CD4 + T cells, CD8 + T cells, and antibodies. The class I and class II epitopes were combined into new epitope megapools to facilitate identification and quantification of SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4 + and CD8 + T cells.

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