NetMHCpan-3.0; improved prediction of binding to MHC class I molecules integrating information from multiple receptor and peptide length datasets

Morten Nielsen, Massimo Andreatta

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    Background: Binding of peptides to MHC class I molecules (MHC-I) is essential for antigen presentation to cytotoxic T-cells.Results: Here, we demonstrate how a simple alignment step allowing insertions and deletions in a pan-specific MHC-I binding machine-learning model enables combining information across both multiple MHC molecules and peptide lengths. This pan-allele/pan-length algorithm significantly outperforms state-of-the-art methods, and captures differences in the length profile of binders to different MHC molecules leading to increased accuracy for ligand identification. Using this model, we demonstrate that percentile ranks in contrast to affinity-based thresholds are optimal for ligand identification due to uniform sampling of the MHC space.Conclusions: We have developed a neural network-based machine-learning algorithm leveraging information across multiple receptor specificities and ligand length scales, and demonstrated how this approach significantly improves the accuracy for prediction of peptide binding and identification of MHC ligands. The method is available at
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number33
    JournalGenome Medicine
    Issue number1
    Number of pages9
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

    Bibliographical note

    © 2016 Nielsen and Andreatta. Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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