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Chemical Derivatization Strategy for Extending the Identification of MHC Class I Immunopeptides

Chen, Rui, Fauteux, Francois, Foote, Simon, Stupak, Jacek, Tremblay, Tammy-Lynn, Gurnani, Komal, Fulton, Kelly M., Weeratna, Risini D., Twine, Susan M., Li, Jianjun
Analytical chemistry 2018 v.90 no.19 pp. 11409-11416
amino acids, cell lines, derivatization, epitopes, hydrophobicity, ionization, liquid chromatography, major histocompatibility complex, neoplasms, patients, peptides, tandem mass spectrometry, therapeutics, vaccines
Neoantigen-based therapeutic vaccines have a high potential impact on tumor eradication and patient survival. Mass spectrometry (MS)-based immunopeptidomics has the capacity to identify tumor-associated epitopes and pinpoint mutation-bearing major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-binding peptides. This approach presents several challenges, including the identification of low-abundance peptides. In addition, MHC peptides have much lower MS/MS identification rates than tryptic peptides due to their shorter sequence and lack of basic amino acid at C-termini. In this study, we report the development and application of a novel chemical derivatization strategy that combines the analysis of native, dimethylated, and alkylamidated peptides by liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS) to expand the coverage of the MHC peptidome. The results revealed that dimethylation increases hydrophobicity and ionization efficiency of MHC class I peptides, while alkylamidation significantly improves the fragmentation by producing more y-ions during MS/MS fragmentation. Thus, the combination of dimethylation and alkylamidation enabled the identification of peptides that could not be identified from the analysis of their native form. Using this strategy, we identified 3148 unique MHC I peptides from HCT 116 cell lines, compared to only 1388 peptides identified in their native form. Among these, 10 mutation-bearing peptides were identified with high confidence, indicating that this chemical derivatization strategy is a promising approach for neoantigen discovery in clinical applications.