Tools for genome-wide rapid identification of peptide–major histocompatibility complex targets of T-cell receptors (TCR) are not yet universally available. We present a new antigen screening method, the T-synapse (Tsyn) reporter system, which includes antigen-presenting cells (APC) with a Fas-inducible NF-κB reporter and T cells with a nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) reporter. To functionally screen for target antigens from a cDNA library, productively interacting T cell–APC aggregates were detected by dual-reporter activity and enriched by flow sorting followed by antigen identification quantified by deep sequencing (Tsyn-seq). When applied to a previously characterized TCR specific for the E7 antigen derived from human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV16), Tsyn-seq successfully enriched the correct cognate antigen from a cDNA library derived from an HPV16-positive cervical cancer cell line. Tsyn-seq provides a method for rapidly identifying antigens recognized by TCRs of interest from a tumor cDNA library.

See related Spotlight by Makani and Joglekar, p. 515.

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