One of the gravest dangers facing cancer patients is an extended symptom-free lull between tumor initiation and the first diagnosis. Detection of tumors is critical for effective intervention. Using the body’s immune system to detect and amplify tumor-specific signals may enable detection of cancer using an inexpensive immunoassay. Immunosignatures are one such assay: they provide a map of antibody interactions with random-sequence peptides. They enable detection of disease-specific patterns using classic train/test methods. However, to date, very little effort has gone into extracting information from the sequence of peptides that interact with disease-specific antibodies. Because it is difficult to represent all possible antigen peptides in a microarray format, we chose to synthesize only 330,000 peptides on a single immunosignature microarray. The 330,000 random-sequence peptides on the microarray represent 83% of all tetramers and 27% of all pentamers, creating an unbiased but substantial gap in the coverage of total sequence space. We therefore chose to examine many relatively short motifs from these random-sequence peptides. Time-variant analysis of recurrent subsequences provided a means to dissect amino acid sequences from the peptides while simultaneously retaining the antibody-peptide binding intensities. We first used a simple experiment in which monoclonal antibodies with known linear epitopes were exposed to these random-sequence peptides, and their binding intensities were used to create our algorithm. We then demonstrated the performance of the proposed algorithm by examining immunosignatures from patients with Glioblastoma multiformae (GBM), an aggressive form of brain cancer. Eight different frameshift targets were identified from the random-sequence peptides using this technique. If immune-reactive antigens can be identified using a relatively simple immune assay, it might enable a diagnostic test with sufficient sensitivity to detect tumors in a clinically useful way.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-233
Number of pages15
JournalCancer Informatics
StatePublished - Mar 6 2015


  • Brain cancer diagnostic
  • Immunosignature
  • Time-frequency analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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