Background: T cell receptors (TCRs) play critical roles in adaptive immune responses, and recent advances in genome technology have made it possible to examine the T cell receptor (TCR) repertoire at the individual sequence level. The analysis of the TCR repertoire with respect to clinical phenotypes can yield novel insights into the etiology and progression of immune-mediated diseases. However, methods for association analysis of the TCR repertoire have not been well developed.
Methods: We introduce an analysis tool, TCR-L, for evaluating the association between the TCR repertoire and disease outcomes. Our approach is developed under a mixed effect modeling, where the fixed effect represents features that can be explicitly extracted from TCR sequences while the random effect represents features that are hidden in TCR sequences and are difficult to be extracted. Statistical tests are developed to examine the two types of effects independently, and then the p values are combined.
Results: Simulation studies demonstrate that (1) the proposed approach can control the type I error well; and (2) the power of the proposed approach is greater than approaches that consider fixed effect only or random effect only. The analysis of real data from a skin cutaneous melanoma study identifies an association between the TCR repertoire and the short/long-term survival of patients.
Conclusion: The TCR-L can accommodate features that can be extracted as well as features that are hidden in TCR sequences. TCR-L provides a powerful approach for identifying association between TCR repertoire and disease outcomes.
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Liu, Meiling; Goo, Juna; Liu, Yang; Sun, Wei; Wu, Michael C.; Hsu, Li; and He, Qianchuan. (2022). "TCR-L: An Analysis Tool for Evaluating the Association Between the T-Cell Receptor Repertoire and Clinical Phenotypes". BMC Bioinformatics, 23, 152. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12859-022-04690-2