Antigens of infectious agents share amino acid sequences with human
proteins. Such a peptide matching may lead to autoimmunity through crossreactivity
phenomena following pathogen infection and/or immunotherapeutic approaches. In
this framework, we analyzed as a model the primary sequence of human
cytomegalovirus (HCMV) glycoprotein B (gB) protein and searched for viral peptide
sequences shared with human proteins. We show that the HCMV antigen has a high peptide identity
with a large number of human proteins at the penta-, hexa-, and heptapeptide level, with the viral
versus human peptide overlap involving host proteins implicated in crucial processes such as
embryonic development, spermatogenesis, spatial learning, and hippocampal plasticity, inter alia.
This study might help understand the etiology of the pathologic sequela associated with HCMV
(re)activation and, in addition, address scientific and clinical research toward the definition of antiviral
therapeutics based on non-crossreactive viral sequences.
Keywords: Anti-HCMV immune response, autoimmune diseases, crossreactivity, HCMV glycoprotein B,
human proteins, peptide sharing.
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