Scheme for Ranking Potential HLA-A2 Binding Peptides Based on Independent Binding of Individual Peptide Side-Chains

Parker KC, Bednarek MA, Coligan JE.
Journal of Immunology
A method to predict the relative binding strengths of all possible nonapeptides to the MHC class I molecule HLA-A2 has been developed based on experimental peptide binding data. These data indicate that, for most peptides, each side-chain of the peptide contributes a certain amount to the stability of the HLA-A2 complex that is independent of the sequence of the peptide. To quantify these contributions, the binding data from a set of 154 peptides were combined together to generate a table containing 180 coefficients (20 amino acids x 9 positions), each of which represents the contribution of one particular amino acid residue at a specified position within the peptide to binding to HLA-A2. Eighty peptides formed stable HLA-A2 complexes, as assessed by measuring the rate of dissociation of beta 2m. The remaining 74 peptides formed complexes that had a half-life of beta 2m dissociation of less than 5 min at 37 degrees C, or did not bind to HLA-A2, and were included because they could be used to constrain the values of some of the coefficients. The "theoretical" binding stability (calculated by multiplying together the corresponding coefficients) matched the experimental binding stability to within a factor of 5. The coefficients were then used to calculate the theoretical binding stability for all the previously identified self or antigenic nonamer peptides known to bind to HLA-A2. The binding stability for all other nonamer peptides that could be generated from the proteins from which these peptides were derived was also predicted. In every case, the previously described HLA-A2 binding peptides were ranked in the top 2% of all possible nonamers for each source protein. Therefore, most biologically relevant nonamer peptides should be identifiable using the table of coefficients. We conclude that the side-chains of most nonamer peptides to the first approximation bind independently of one another to the HLA-A2 molecule.