Using Frameshift Peptide Arrays for Cancer Neo-Antigens Screening

Jian Zhang, Luhui Shen, Stephen Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


It has been demonstrated that DNA mutations generating neo-antigens are important for an effective immune response to tumors as evident from recent clinical studies of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs). Further, it was shown that frameshift peptides (FSP) generated in tumors from insertions and deletions (INDELs) of microsatellites (MS) in coding region are a very good correlate of positive response to PD1 treatment. However, these types of DNA-sourced FSPs are infrequent in cancer. We hypothesize that tumors may also generate FSPs in transcription errors through INDELs in MS or by exon mis-splicing. Since there are a finite number of predictable sequences of such possible FSPs in the genome, we propose that peptide arrays with all possible FSPs could be used to analyze antibody reactivity to FSPs in patient sera as a FS neo-antigen screen. If this were the case it would facilitate finding common tumor neoantigens for cancer vaccines. Here we test this proposal using an array of 377 predicted FS antigens. The results of screening 9 types of dog cancer sera indicate that cancer samples had significantly higher antibody responses against FSPs than non-cancer samples. Both common reactive FSPs and cancer-type specific immune responses were detected. In addition, the protection of a common reactive FSP was tested in mouse tumor models, comparing to the non-reactive FSPs. The mouse homologs non-reactive FSPs did not offer protection in either the mouse melanoma or breast cancer models while the reactive FSP did in both models. The tumor protection was positively correlated to antibody response to the FSP. These data suggest that FSP arrays could be used for cancer neo-antigen screening.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number17366
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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