Glioblastoma is the most frequent malignant primary brain tumor. In a hierarchical tumor model, glioblastoma stem-like cells (GSC) play a major role in tumor initiation and maintenance as well as in therapy resistance and recurrence. Thus, targeting this cellular subset may be key to effective immunotherapy. Here, we present a mass spectrometry-based analysis of HLA-presented peptidomes of GSC and glioblastoma patient specimens. Based on the analysis of patient samples (n = 9) and GSC (n = 3), we performed comparative HLA peptidome profiling against a dataset of normal human tissues. Using this immunopeptidome-centric approach we could clearly delineate a subset of naturally presented, GSC-associated HLA ligands, which might serve as highly specific targets for T cell-based immunotherapy. In total, we identified 17 antigens represented by 41 different HLA ligands showing natural and exclusive presentation both on GSC and patient samples. Importantly, in vitro immunogenicity and antigen-specific target cell killing assays suggest these peptides to be epitopes of functional CD8+ T cell responses, thus rendering them prime candidates for antigen-specific immunotherapy of glioblastoma.
Keywords: GSC; Glioblastoma; Glioblastoma stem-like cells; HLA ligand; Immunotherapy; Tumor-associated antigen.