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Article

Detailed Dissection and Critical Evaluation of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna mRNA Vaccines

by 1,2
1
Department of Biology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5, Canada
2
Ottawa Institute of Systems Biology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON K1H 8M5, Canada
Academic Editor: Hatem A. Elshabrawy
Vaccines 2021, 9(7), 734; https://doi.org/10.3390/vaccines9070734
Received: 13 June 2021 / Revised: 25 June 2021 / Accepted: 30 June 2021 / Published: 3 July 2021
The design of Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines involves many different types of optimizations. Proper optimization of vaccine mRNA can reduce dosage required for each injection leading to more efficient immunization programs. The mRNA components of the vaccine need to have a 5′-UTR to load ribosomes efficiently onto the mRNA for translation initiation, optimized codon usage for efficient translation elongation, and optimal stop codon for efficient translation termination. Both 5′-UTR and the downstream 3′-UTR should be optimized for mRNA stability. The replacement of uridine by N1-methylpseudourinine (Ψ) complicates some of these optimization processes because Ψ is more versatile in wobbling than U. Different optimizations can conflict with each other, and compromises would need to be made. I highlight the similarities and differences between Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines and discuss the advantage and disadvantage of each to facilitate future vaccine improvement. In particular, I point out a few optimizations in the design of the two mRNA vaccines that have not been performed properly. View Full-Text
Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; mRNA vaccine; translation initiation; codon optimization; translation termination; RNA secondary structure; RNA stability SARS-CoV-2; mRNA vaccine; translation initiation; codon optimization; translation termination; RNA secondary structure; RNA stability
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MDPI and ACS Style

Xia, X. Detailed Dissection and Critical Evaluation of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna mRNA Vaccines. Vaccines 2021, 9, 734. https://doi.org/10.3390/vaccines9070734

AMA Style

Xia X. Detailed Dissection and Critical Evaluation of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna mRNA Vaccines. Vaccines. 2021; 9(7):734. https://doi.org/10.3390/vaccines9070734

Chicago/Turabian Style

Xia, Xuhua. 2021. "Detailed Dissection and Critical Evaluation of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna mRNA Vaccines" Vaccines 9, no. 7: 734. https://doi.org/10.3390/vaccines9070734

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