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Tumor Necrosis Factor alpha (TNF-α) is a pleiotropic pro-inflammatory cytokine that is crucial in controlling the signaling pathways within the immune cells. Recent studies reported that higher expression levels of TNF-α are associated with the progression of several diseases, including cancers, cytokine release syndrome in COVID-19, and autoimmune disorders. Thus, it is the need of the hour to develop immunotherapies or subunit vaccines to manage TNF-α progression in various disease conditions. In the pilot study, we proposed a host-specific in-silico tool for predicting, designing, and scanning TNF-α inducing epitopes. The prediction models were trained and validated on the experimentally validated TNF-α inducing/non-inducing epitopes from human and mouse hosts. Firstly, we developed alignment-free (machine learning based models using composition-based features of peptides) methods for predicting TNF-α inducing peptides and achieved maximum AUROC of 0.79 and 0.74 for human and mouse hosts, respectively. Secondly, an alignment-based (using BLAST) method has been used for predicting TNF-α inducing epitopes. Finally, a hybrid method (combination of alignment-free and alignment-based method) has been developed for predicting epitopes. Hybrid approach achieved maximum AUROC of 0.83 and 0.77 on an independent dataset for human and mouse hosts, respectively. We have also identified potential TNF-α inducing peptides in different proteins of HIV-1, HIV-2, SARS-CoV-2, and human insulin. The best models developed in this study has been incorporated in the webserver TNFepitope (, standalone package and GitLab ( Copyright © 2023 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Anjali Dhall, Sumeet Patiyal, Shubham Choudhury, Shipra Jain, Kashish Narang, Gajendra P S Raghava. TNFepitope: A webserver for the prediction of TNF-α inducing epitopes. Computers in biology and medicine. 2023 Jun;160:106929

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PMID: 37126926

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