Multi-epitope mRNA Vaccine Design that Exploits Variola Virus and Monkeypox Virus Proteins for Elicitation of Long-lasting Humoral and Cellular Protection Against Severe Disease


  • Dženan Kovačić Department of Genetics and Bioengineering, Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences, International Burch University, Ilidža, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Adna Salihović Department of Genetics and Bioengineering, Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences, International Burch University, Ilidža, Bosnia and Herzegovina



smallpox, monkeypox, monkeypox outbreak, monkeypox vaccine, mRNA vaccines, poxviruses


Human monkeypox represents a relatively underexplored infection that has received increased attention since the reported outbreak in May 2022. Due to its clinical similarities with human smallpox, this virus represents a potentially tremendous health problem demanding further research in the context of host-pathogen interactions and vaccine development. Furthermore, the cross-continental spread of monkeypox has reaffirmed the need for devoting attention to human poxviruses in general, as they represent potential bioterrorism agents. Currently, smallpox vaccines are utilized in immunization efforts against monkeypox, an unsurprising fact considering their genomic and phenotypic similarities. Though it offers long-lasting protection against smallpox, its protective effects against human monkeypox continue to be explored, with encouraging results. Taking this into account, this works aims at utilizing in silico tools to identify potent peptide-based epitopes stemming from the variola virus and monkeypox virus proteomes, to devise a vaccine that would offer significant protection against smallpox and monkeypox. In theory, a vaccine that offers cross-protection against variola and monkeypox would also protect against related viruses, at least in severe clinical manifestation. Herein, we introduce a novel multi-epitope mRNA vaccine design that exploits these two viral proteomes to elicit long-lasting humoral and cellular immunity. Special consideration was taken in ensuring that the vaccine candidate elicits a Th1 immune response, correlated with protection against clinically severe disease for both viruses. Immune system simulations and physicochemical and safety analyses characterize our vaccine candidate as antigenically potent, safe, and overall stable. The protein product displays high binding affinity towards relevant immune receptors. Furthermore, the vaccine candidate is to elicit a protective, humoral and Th1-dominated cellular immune response that lasts over five years. Lastly, we build a case about the rapidity and convenience of circumventing the live attenuated vaccine platform using mRNA vaccine technology.


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How to Cite

Kovačić D, Salihović A. Multi-epitope mRNA Vaccine Design that Exploits Variola Virus and Monkeypox Virus Proteins for Elicitation of Long-lasting Humoral and Cellular Protection Against Severe Disease. JMS [Internet]. 2022 Nov. 28 [cited 2023 Feb. 4];91(4):e750. Available from:



Original Papers
Received 2022-10-05
Accepted 2022-10-31
Published 2022-11-28