T cell recognition of minor histocompatibility Ags (MiHA) plays an important role in the graft-versus-tumor effect of allogeneic stem cell transplantation. Selective infusion of T cells reactive for hematopoiesis-restricted MiHA presented in the context of HLA class I or II molecules may help to separate the graft-versus-tumor effects from graft-versus-host disease effects after allogeneic stem cell transplantation. Over the years, increasing numbers of MiHA have been identified by forward immunology approaches, and the relevance of these MiHA has been illustrated by correlation with clinical outcome. As the tissue distribution of MiHA affects the clinical outcome of T cell responses against these Ags, it would be beneficial to identify additional predefined MiHA that are exclusively expressed on hematopoietic cells. Therefore, several reverse immunology approaches have been explored for the prediction of MiHA. Thus far, these approaches frequently resulted in the identification of T cells directed against epitopes that are not naturally processed and presented. In this study we established a method for the identification of biologically relevant MiHA, implementing mass spectrometry–based HLA-peptidomics into a reverse immunology approach. For this purpose, HLA class I binding peptides were eluted from transformed B cells, analyzed by mass spectrometry, and matched with a database dedicated to identifying polymorphic peptides. This process resulted in a set of 40 MiHA candidates that were evaluated in multiple selection steps. The identification of LB-NISCH-1A demonstrated the technical feasibility of our approach. On the basis of these results, we present an approach that can be of value for the efficient identification of MiHA or other T cell epitopes.
- minor histocompatibility antigens
- restricted tissue distribution