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Optimized liquid and gas phase fractionation increase HLA-peptidome coverage for primary cell and tissue samples

By Susan Klaeger, Annie Apffel, Karl R. Clauser, Siranush Sarkizova, Giacomo Oliveira, Suzanna Rachimi, Phuong M. Le, Anna Tarren, Vipheaviny Chea, Jennifer G. Abelin, David A. Braun, Patrick A Ott, Hasmik Keshishian, Nir Hacohen, Derin Keskin, Catherine J. Wu, Steven A Carr

Posted 25 May 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.05.25.445487

Mass spectrometry is the most effective method to directly identify peptides presented on HLA molecules. However, current standard approaches often require many millions of cells for input material to achieve high coverage of the immunopeptidome and are therefore not compatible with the often limited amounts of tissue available from clinical tumor samples. Here, we evaluated microscaled basic reversed-phase fractionation to separate HLA peptide samples off-line followed by ion mobility coupled to LC-MS/MS for analysis. The combination of these two separation methods enabled identification of 20% to 50% more peptides compared to samples analyzed without either prior fractionation or use of ion mobility alone. We demonstrate coverage of HLA immunopeptidomes with up to 8,107 distinct peptides starting with as few as 100 million cells or 150 milligrams of wet weight tumor tissue. This increased sensitivity can improve HLA binding prediction algorithms and enable detection of clinically relevant epitopes such as neoantigens.

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