High-throughput, targeted MHC class I immunopeptidomics using a functional genetics screening platform

Nature Biotechnology, 2023


Identification of CD8+ T cell epitopes is critical for the development of immunotherapeutics. Existing methods for major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC class I) ligand discovery are time intensive, specialized and unable to interrogate specific proteins on a large scale. Here, we present EpiScan, which uses surface MHC class I levels as a readout for whether a genetically encoded peptide is an MHC class I ligand. Predetermined starting pools composed of >100,000 peptides can be designed using oligonucleotide synthesis, permitting large-scale MHC class I screening. We exploit this programmability of EpiScan to uncover an unappreciated role for cysteine that increases the number of predicted ligands by 9–21%, reveal affinity hierarchies by analysis of biased anchor peptide libraries and screen viral proteomes for MHC class I ligands. Using these data, we generate and iteratively refine peptide binding predictions to create EpiScan Predictor. EpiScan Predictor performs comparably to other state-of-the-art MHC class I peptide binding prediction algorithms without suffering from underrepresentation of cysteine-containing peptides. Thus, targeted immunopeptidomics using EpiScan will accelerate CD8+ T cell epitope discovery toward the goal of individual-specific immunotherapeutics.

APC QuickSwitch Quant HLA-A*02:01 tetramers (MBL-TB-7300-KM-10) manufactured by our partner MBL International is featured in this study.

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