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T-FINDER: A highly sensitive, pan-HLA platform for functional T cell receptor and ligand discovery

Miray Cetin, Veronica Pinamonti, Theresa Schmid, Tamara Boschert, Ana Mellado Fuentes, Kristina Kromer, Taga Lerner, Jing Zhang, Yonata Herzig, Christopher Ehlert, Miguel Hernandez-Hernandez, Georgios Samaras, Claudia Maldonado Torres, Laura Fisch, Valeriia Dragan, Arlette Kouwenhoven, Bertrand Van Schoubroeck, Hans Wils, Carl Van Hove, Michael Platten, Edward W. Green, Frederik Stevenaert, Nathan J Felix, John M Lindner

Effective, unbiased, high-throughput methods to functionally identify both class II and class I HLA-presented T cell epitopes and their cognate T cell receptors (TCRs) are essential for and prerequisite to diagnostic and therapeutic applications, yet remain underdeveloped. Here, we present T-FINDER [T cell Functional Identification and (Neo)-antigen Discovery of Epitopes and Receptors], a system to rapidly deconvolute CD4 and CD8 TCRs and targets physiologically processed and presented by an individual's unmanipulated, complete human leukocyte antigen (HLA) haplotype. Combining a highly sensitive TCR signaling reporter with an antigen processing system to overcome previously undescribed limitations to target expression, T-FINDER both robustly identifies unknown peptide:HLA ligands from antigen libraries and rapidly screens and functionally validates the specificity of large TCR libraries against known or predicted targets. To demonstrate its capabilities, we apply the platform to multiple TCR-based applications, including diffuse midline glioma, celiac disease, and rheumatoid arthritis, providing unique biological insights and showcasing T-FINDER's potency and versatility.

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H3K27M neoepitope vaccination in diffuse midline glioma induces B and T cell responses across diverse HLA loci of a recovered patient

Tamara Boschert, Kristina Kromer, Taga Lerner, Katharina Lindner, Gordon Haltenhof, Chin Leng Tan, Kristine Jähne, Isabel Poschke, Lukas Bunse, Philipp Eisele, Niklas Grassl, Iris Mildenberger, Katharina Sahm, Michael Platten, JohnM Lindner, Edward W Green

H3K27M, a driver mutation with T and B cell neoepitope characteristics, defines an aggressive subtype of diffuse glioma with poor survival. We functionally dissect the immune response of one patient treated with an H3K27M peptide vaccine who subsequently entered complete remission. The vaccine robustly expanded class II human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-restricted peripheral H3K27M-specific T cells. Using functional assays, we characterized 34 clonally unique H3K27M-reactive T cell receptors and identified critical, conserved motifs in their complementarity-determining region 3 regions. Using detailed HLA mapping, we further demonstrate that diverse HLA-DQ and HLA-DR alleles present immunogenic H3K27M epitopes. Furthermore, we identified and profiled H3K27M-reactive B cell receptors from activated B cells in the cerebrospinal fluid. Our results uncover the breadth of the adaptive immune response against a shared clonal neoantigen across multiple HLA allelotypes and support the use of class II-restricted peptide vaccines to stimulate tumor-specific T and B cells harboring receptors with therapeutic potential.

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Thunder-DDA-PASEF enables high-coverage immunopeptidomics and identifies HLA class-I presented SarsCov-2 spike protein epitopes

David Gomez-Zepeda, Danielle Arnold-Schild, Julian Beyrle, Elena Kumm, Ute Distler, Hansjörg Schild, Stefan Tenzer

Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I peptide ligands (HLAIps) are key targets for developing vaccines and immunotherapies against infectious pathogens or cancer cells. Identifying HLAIps is challenging due to their high diversity, low abundance, and patient-specific profiles. Here, we developed a highly sensitive method for identifying HLAIps using liquid chromatography-ion mobility-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-IMS-MS/MS). The optimized method, Thunder-DDA-PASEF, semi-selectively fragments HLAIps based on their IMS and m/z, thus increasing the coverage of immunopeptidomics analyses. Thunder-DDA-PASEF includes singly-charged peptides, which contributes to more than 35% of the HLAIp identifications. Combined with MS2Rescore, Thunder-DDA-PASEF improved ligandome coverage by 150% compared to the original-DDA-PASEF method, and enabled in-depth profiling of HLAIps from two human cell lines, JY and Raji, transfected to express the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. We identified seventeen spike protein HLAIps, thirteen of which had been reported to elicit immune responses in human patients.

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Metabolic regulation of immune responses to cancer

Jannis Wißfeld*, Anke Werner*, Xin Yan*, Nora Ten Bosch*, Guoliang Cui

*authors contributed equally

The tumor microenvironment is an ecosystem composed of multiple types of cells, such as tumor cells, immune cells, and cancer-associated fibroblasts. Cancer cells grow faster than non-cancerous cells and consume larger amounts of nutrients. The rapid growth characteristic of cancer cells fundamentally alters nutrient availability in the tumor microenvironment and results in reprogramming of immune cell metabolic pathways. Accumulating evidence suggests that cellular metabolism of nutrients, such as lipids and amino acids, beyond being essential to meet the bioenergetic and biosynthetic demands of immune cells, also regulates a broad spectrum of cellular signal transduction, and influences immune cell survival, differentiation, and anti-tumor effector function. The cancer immunometabolism research field is rapidly evolving, and exciting new discoveries are reported in high-profile journals nearly weekly. Therefore, all new findings in this field cannot be summarized within this short review. Instead, this review is intended to provide a brief introduction to this rapidly developing research field, with a focus on the metabolism of two classes of important nutrients-lipids and amino acids-in immune cells. We highlight recent research on the roles of lipids and amino acids in regulating the metabolic fitness and immunological functions of T cells, macrophages, and natural killer cells in the tumor microenvironment. Furthermore, we discuss the possibility of "editing" metabolic pathways in immune cells to act synergistically with currently available immunotherapies in enhancing anti-tumor immune responses.

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