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Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) B*51:01 and endoplasmic reticulum aminopeptidase 1 (ERAP1) are strongly genetically associated with Behçet's disease (BD). Previous studies have defined two subgroups of HLA-B*51 peptidome containing proline (Pro) or alanine (Ala) at position 2 (P2). Little is known about the unconventional non-Pro/Ala2 HLA-B*51-bound peptides. We aimed to study the features of this novel subpeptidome, and investigate its regulation by ERAP1. CRISPR-Cas9 was used to generate an HLA-ABC-triple knockout HeLa cell line (HeLa.ABC-KO), which was subsequently transduced to express HLA-B*51:01 (HeLa.ABC-KO.B51). ERAP1 was silenced using lentiviral shRNA. Peptides bound to HLA-B*51:01 were eluted and analyzed by mass spectrometry. The characteristics of non-Pro/Ala2, Pro2, and Ala2 peptides and their alteration by ERAP1 silencing were investigated. Effects of ERAP1 silencing on cell surface expression of HLA-B*51:01 were studied using flow cytometry. More than 20% of peptides eluted from HLA-B*51:01 lacked Pro or Ala at P2. This unconventional group of HLA-B*51:01-bound peptides was relatively enriched for 8-mers (with relatively fewer 9-mers) compared with the Pro2 and Ala2 subpeptidomes and had similar N-terminal and C-terminal residue usages to Ala2 peptides (with the exception of the less abundant leucine at position Ω). Knockdown of ERAP1 increased the percentage of non-Pro/Ala2 from 20% to ∼40%, increased the percentage of longer (10-mer and 11-mer) peptides eluted from HLA-B*51:01 complexes, and abrogated the predominance of leucine at P1. Interestingly knockdown of ERAP1 altered the length and N-terminal residue usage of non-Ala2&Pro2 and Ala2 but not the Pro2 peptides. Finally, ERAP1 silencing regulated the expression levels of cell surface HLA-B*51 in a cell-type-dependent manner. In conclusion, we have used a novel methodology to identify an unconventional but surprisingly abundant non-Pro/Ala2 HLA-B*51:01 subpeptidome. It is increased by knockdown of ERAP1, a gene affecting the risk of developing BD. This has implications for theories of disease pathogenesis.

Original publication




Journal article


Mol cell proteomics

Publication Date





871 - 883


Antigen Presentation, Behçet's Disease, ERAP1, HLA-B*51:01, Immunoaffinity, Immunology, Immunopeptidome, Mass Spectrometry, Peptides, Tandem Mass Spectrometry