Allogenic stem cell transplantation has shown considerable success in a number of hematological malignancies, in particular in leukemia. The beneficial effect is mediated by donor T cells recognizing patient-specific HLA-binding peptides. These peptides are called minor histocompatibility antigens (miHAs) and are typically caused by single nucleotide polymorphisms. Tissue-specific miHAs have successfully been used in anti-tumor therapy without causing unspecific graft-versus-host reactions. However, only a small number of miHAs have been identified to date, limiting the clinical use. Here we present an immunoinformatics pipeline for the identification of miHAs. The pipeline can be applied to large-scale miHA screening, for example, in the development of diagnostic tests. Another interesting application is the design of personalized miHA-based cancer therapies based on patient-donor pair-specific miHAs detected by this pipeline. The suggested method covers various aspects of genetic variant detection, effects of alternative transcripts, and HLA-peptide binding. A comparison of our computational pipeline and experimentally derived datasets shows excellent agreement and coverage of the computationally predicted miHAs.
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