The target of any immunization is to activate and expand lymphocyte clones with the desired recognition specificity and the necessary effector functions. In gene, recombinant and peptide vaccines, the immunogen is a single protein or a small assembly of epitopes from antigenic proteins. Since most immune responses against protein and peptide antigens are T-cell dependent, the molecular target of such vaccines is to generate at least 50-100 complexes between MHC molecule and the antigenic peptide per antigen-presenting cell, sensitizing a T cell population of appropriate clonal size and effector characteristics. Thus, the immunobiology of antigen recognition by T cells must be taken into account when designing new generation peptide- or gene-based vaccines. Since T cell recognition is MHC-restricted, and given the wide polymorphism of the different MHC molecules, distinct epitopes may be recognized by different individuals in the population. Therefore, the issue of whether immunization will be effective in inducing a protective immune response, covering the entire target population, becomes an important question. Many pathogens have evolved molecular mechanisms to escape recognition by the immune system by variation of antigenic protein sequences. In this short review, we will discuss the several concepts related to selection of amino acid sequences to be included in DNA and peptide vaccines
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