An Integrated Genomic, Proteomic, and Immunopeptidomic Approach to Discover Treatment-Induced Neoantigens

Front Immunol. 2021 Apr 15;12:662443. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2021.662443. eCollection 2021.


All nucleated mammalian cells express major histocompatibility complex (MHC) proteins that present peptides on cell surfaces for immune surveillance. These MHC-presented peptides (pMHC) are necessary for directing T-cell responses against cells harboring non-self antigens derived from pathogens or from somatic mutations. Alterations in tumor-specific antigen repertoires - particularly novel MHC presentation of mutation-bearing peptides (neoantigens) - can be potent targets of anti-tumor immune responses. Here we employed an integrated genomic and proteomic antigen discovery strategy aimed at measuring how interferon gamma (IFN-γ) alters antigen presentation, using a human lymphoma cell line, GRANTA-519. IFN-γ treatment resulted in 126 differentially expressed proteins (2% of all quantified proteins), which included components of antigen presentation machinery and interferon signaling pathways, and MHC molecules themselves. In addition, several proteasome subunits were found to be modulated, consistent with previous reports of immunoproteasome induction by IFN-γ exposure. This finding suggests that a modest proteomic response to IFN-γ could create larger alteration to cells' antigen/epitope repertoires. Accordingly, MHC immunoprecipitation followed by mass spectrometric analysis of eluted peptide repertoires revealed exclusive signatures of IFN-γ induction, with 951 unique peptides reproducibly presented by MHC-I and 582 presented by MHC-II. Furthermore, an additional set of pMHCs including several candidate neoantigens, distinguished control and the IFN-γ samples by their altered relative abundances. Accordingly, we developed a classification system to distinguish peptides which are differentially presented due to altered expression from novel peptides resulting from changes in antigen processing. Taken together, these data demonstrate that IFN-γ can re-shape antigen repertoires by identity and by abundance. Extending this approach to models with greater clinical relevance could help develop strategies by which immunopeptide repertoires are intentionally reshaped to improve endogenous or vaccine-induced anti-tumor immune responses and potentially anti-viral immune responses.

Keywords: HLA; IFN-γ; MHC; antigen presentation; cancer; ligandome; mass spectrometry; neoantigen.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigen Presentation / immunology
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / genetics*
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / isolation & purification*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Epitopes / immunology
  • Genomics*
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / pharmacology
  • Lymphoma
  • Peptides / immunology*
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex*
  • Proteomics*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Epitopes
  • Peptides
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex