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Analysis of complex proteomes often results in long protein lists, but falls short in measuring the validity of identification and quantification results on a greater number of proteins. Biological and technical replicates are mandatory, as is the combination of the MS data from various workflows (gels, 1D-LC, 2D-LC), instruments (TOF/TOF, trap, qTOF or FTMS), and search engines.
We describe a database-driven study that combines two workflows, two mass spectrometers, and four search engines with protein identification following a decoy database strategy.
The sample was a tryptically digested lysate (10,000 cells) of a human colorectal cancer cell line. Data from two LC-MALDI-TOF/TOF runs and a 2D-LC-ESI-trap run using capillary and nano-LC columns were submitted to the proteomics software platform ProteinScape. The combined MALDI data and the ESI data were searched using Mascot (Matrix Science), Phenyx (GeneBio), ProteinSolver (Bruker and Protagen), and Sequest (Thermo) against a decoy database generated from IPI-human in order to obtain one protein list across all workflows and search engines at a defined maximum false-positive rate of 5%. ProteinScape combined the data to one LC-MALDI and one LC-ESI dataset. The initial separate searches from the two combined datasets generated eight independent peptide lists. These were compiled into an integrated protein list using the ProteinExtractor algorithm.
An initial evaluation of the generated data led to the identification of approximately 1200 proteins. Result integration on a peptide level allowed discrimination of protein isoforms that would not have been possible with a mere combination of protein lists.