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Footprints of antigen processing boost MHC class II natural ligand binding predictions

By Carolina Barra, Bruno Alvarez, Sinu Paul, Alessandro Sette, Bjoern Peters, Soren Buus, Massimo Andreatta, Morten Nielsen

Posted 20 Mar 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/285767 (published DOI: 10.1186/s13073-018-0594-6)

Background: Major Histocompatibility complex class II (MHC-II) molecules present peptide fragments to T cells for immune recognition. Current predictors for peptide:MHC-II binding are trained on binding affinity data, generated in-vitro and therefore lacking information about antigen processing. Methods: We generate prediction models of peptide:MHC-II binding trained with naturally eluted ligands derived from mass spectrometry in addition to peptide binding affinity datasets. Results: We show that integrated prediction models incorporate identifiable rules of antigen processing. In fact, we observed detectable signals of protease cleavage at defined positions of the ligands. We also hypothesize a role of the length of the terminal ligand protrusions for trimming the peptide to the MHC presented ligand. Conclusions: The results of integrating binding affinity and eluted ligand data in a combined model demonstrate improved performance for the prediction of MHC-II ligands and T cell epitopes, and foreshadow a new generation of improved peptide:MHC-II prediction tools accounting for the plurality of factors that determine natural presentation of antigens.

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