In silico design and performance of peptide microarrays for breast cancer tumour-auto-antibody testing

Parvez Syed, István Gyurján, Albert Kriegner, Klemens Vierlinger, Christian F. Singer, Christine Rappaport-Fürhauser, Johannes Zerweck, Johannes Söllner, Andreas Weinhäusel


The simplicity and potential of minimally invasive testing using sera from patients makes auto-antibody based biomarkers a very promising tool for use in cancer diagnostics. Protein microarrays have been used for the identification of such auto-antibody signatures. Because high throughput protein expression and purification is laborious, synthetic peptides might be a good alternative for microarray generation and multiplexed analyses.
In this study, we designed 1185 antigenic peptides, deduced from proteins expressed by 642 cDNA expression clones found to be sero-reactive in both breast tumour patients and controls. The sero-reactive proteins and the corresponding peptides were used for the production of protein and peptide microarrays. Serum samples from females with benign and malignant breast tumours and healthy control sera (n=16 per group) were then analysed. Correct classification of the serum samples on peptide microarrays were 78% for discrimination of ‘malignant versus healthy controls’, 72% for ‘benign versus malignant’ and 94% for ‘benign versus controls’. On protein arrays, correct classification for these contrasts was 69%, 59% and 59%, respectively.
The over-representation analysis of the classifiers derived from class prediction showed enrichment of genes associated with ribosomes, spliceosomes, endocytosis and the pentose phosphate pathway. Sequence analyses of the peptides with the highest sero-reactivity demonstrated enrichment of the zinc-finger domain. Peptides’ sero-reactivities were found negatively correlated with hydrophobicity and positively correlated with positive charge, high inter-residue protein contact energies and a secondary structure propensity bias. This study hints at the possibility of using in silico designed antigenic peptide microarrays as an alternative to protein microarrays for the improvement of tumour auto-antibody based diagnostics.


Peptide microarrays, auto-antibody, protein microarray, antigenic peptide design, Antigenic motif enrichment


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