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IntroSpect: motif-guided immunopeptidome database building tool to improve the sensitivity of HLA binding peptide identification

By Le Zhang, Geng Liu, Guixue Hou, Haitao Xiang, Xi Zhang, Ying Huang, Xiuqing Zhang, Bo Li, Leo J Lee

Posted 04 Aug 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.08.02.454768

Although database search tools originally developed for shotgun proteome have been widely used in immunopeptidomic mass spectrometry identifications, they have been reported to achieve undesirably low sensitivities and/or high false positive rates as a result of the hugely inflated search space caused by the lack of specific enzymic digestions in immunopeptidome. To overcome such a problem, we have developed a motif-guided immunopeptidome database building tool named IntroSpect, which is designed to first learn the peptide motifs from high confidence hits in the initial search and then build a targeted database for refined search. Evaluated on three representative HLA class I datasets, IntroSpect can improve the sensitivity by an average of 80% comparing to conventional searches with unspecific digestions while maintaining a very high accuracy (~96%) as confirmed by synthetic validation experiments. A distinct advantage of IntroSpect is that it does not depend on any external HLA data so that it performs equally well on both well-studied and poorly-studied HLA types, unlike a previously developed method SpectMHC. We have also designed IntroSpect to keep a global FDR that can be conveniently controlled, similar to conventional database search engines. Finally, we demonstrate the practical value of IntroSpect by discovering neoantigens from MS data directly. IntroSpect is freely available at https://github.com/BGI2016/IntroSpect.

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