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1.  A complete mass spectrometric map for the analysis of the yeast proteome and its application to quantitative trait analysis 
Nature  2013;494(7436):266-270.
Complete reference maps or datasets, like the genomic map of an organism, are highly beneficial tools for biological and biomedical research. Attempts to generate such reference datasets for a proteome so far failed to reach complete proteome coverage, with saturation apparent at approximately two thirds of the proteomes tested, even for the most thoroughly characterized proteomes. Here, we used a strategy based on high-throughput peptide synthesis and mass spectrometry to generate a close to complete reference map (97% of the genome-predicted proteins) of the S. cerevisiae proteome. We generated two versions of this mass spectrometric map one supporting discovery- (shotgun) and the other hypothesis-driven (targeted) proteomic measurements. The two versions of the map, therefore, constitute a complete set of proteomic assays to support most studies performed with contemporary proteomic technologies. The reference libraries can be browsed via a web-based repository and associated navigation tools. To demonstrate the utility of the reference libraries we applied them to a protein quantitative trait locus (pQTL) analysis, which requires measurement of the same peptides over a large number of samples with high precision. Protein measurements over a set of 78 S. cerevisiae strains revealed a complex relationship between independent genetic loci, impacting on the levels of related proteins. Our results suggest that selective pressure favors the acquisition of sets of polymorphisms that maintain the stoichiometry of protein complexes and pathways.
PMCID: PMC3951219  PMID: 23334424
S. cerevisiae; selected reaction monitoring; SRM; MRM; spectral library; peptide library; mass spectrometric map; protein QTL
2.  Using iRT, a normalized retention time for more targeted measurement of peptides 
Proteomics  2012;12(8):1111-1121.
Multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) has recently become the method of choice for targeted quantitative measurement of proteins using mass spectrometry. The method, however, is limited in the number of peptides that can be measured in one run. This number can be markedly increased by scheduling the acquisition if the accurate retention time (RT) of each peptide is known.
Here we present iRT, an empirically derived dimensionless peptide-specific value that allows for highly accurate RT prediction. The iRT of a peptide is a fixed number relative to a standard set of reference iRT-peptides that can be transferred across laboratories and chromatographic systems.
We show that iRT facilitates the setup of multiplexed experiments with acquisition windows more than 4 times smaller compared to in silico RT predictions resulting in improved quantification accuracy. iRTs can be determined by any laboratory and shared transparently. The iRT concept has been implemented in Skyline, the most widely used software for MRM experiments.
PMCID: PMC3918884  PMID: 22577012
Mass spectrometry; multiplexing; proteomics methods; optimization; quantitative analysis
3.  Targeted Peptide Measurements in Biology and Medicine: Best Practices for Mass Spectrometry-based Assay Development Using a Fit-for-Purpose Approach* 
Adoption of targeted mass spectrometry (MS) approaches such as multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) to study biological and biomedical questions is well underway in the proteomics community. Successful application depends on the ability to generate reliable assays that uniquely and confidently identify target peptides in a sample. Unfortunately, there is a wide range of criteria being applied to say that an assay has been successfully developed. There is no consensus on what criteria are acceptable and little understanding of the impact of variable criteria on the quality of the results generated. Publications describing targeted MS assays for peptides frequently do not contain sufficient information for readers to establish confidence that the tests work as intended or to be able to apply the tests described in their own labs. Guidance must be developed so that targeted MS assays with established performance can be made widely distributed and applied by many labs worldwide. To begin to address the problems and their solutions, a workshop was held at the National Institutes of Health with representatives from the multiple communities developing and employing targeted MS assays. Participants discussed the analytical goals of their experiments and the experimental evidence needed to establish that the assays they develop work as intended and are achieving the required levels of performance. Using this “fit-for-purpose” approach, the group defined three tiers of assays distinguished by their performance and extent of analytical characterization. Computational and statistical tools useful for the analysis of targeted MS results were described. Participants also detailed the information that authors need to provide in their manuscripts to enable reviewers and readers to clearly understand what procedures were performed and to evaluate the reliability of the peptide or protein quantification measurements reported. This paper presents a summary of the meeting and recommendations.
PMCID: PMC3945918  PMID: 24443746
4.  A Quantitative Targeted Proteomics Approach to Validate Predicted microRNA Targets in C. elegans 
Nature methods  2010;7(10):837-842.
Computational prediction methods for the identification of microRNA (miRNA) target genes benefit from efficient experimental validation strategies. Here we present a large-scale targeted proteomics approach to validate such predicted miRNA targets in Caenorhabditis elegans. Using selected reaction monitoring (SRM), we quantified 161 proteins of interest in extracts from wild-type and let-7 mutant worms. We demonstrate by independent experimental downstream analyses such as genetic interaction, as well as exemplarily performed polysomal profiling and luciferase assays, that validation by targeted proteomics significantly enriches for biologically relevant let-7 interactors. For example, we show that the zinc finger protein ZTF-7 is a bona fide let-7 miRNA target. We also validated a set of predicted miR-58 targets, demonstrating that this approach is adaptable to multiple miRNAs of interest. We propose that targeted mass spectrometry can be applied generally to validate candidate lists generated by computational methods or by large-scale experiments, and that the described strategy can easily be adapted to other organisms.
PMCID: PMC3444237  PMID: 20835247
targeted proteomics; microRNA targets; let-7; C. elegans; selected / multiple reaction monitoring; SRM / MRM
5.  ATAQS: A computational software tool for high throughput transition optimization and validation for selected reaction monitoring mass spectrometry 
BMC Bioinformatics  2011;12:78.
Since its inception, proteomics has essentially operated in a discovery mode with the goal of identifying and quantifying the maximal number of proteins in a sample. Increasingly, proteomic measurements are also supporting hypothesis-driven studies, in which a predetermined set of proteins is consistently detected and quantified in multiple samples. Selected reaction monitoring (SRM) is a targeted mass spectrometric technique that supports the detection and quantification of specific proteins in complex samples at high sensitivity and reproducibility. Here, we describe ATAQS, an integrated software platform that supports all stages of targeted, SRM-based proteomics experiments including target selection, transition optimization and post acquisition data analysis. This software will significantly facilitate the use of targeted proteomic techniques and contribute to the generation of highly sensitive, reproducible and complete datasets that are particularly critical for the discovery and validation of targets in hypothesis-driven studies in systems biology.
We introduce a new open source software pipeline, ATAQS (Automated and Targeted Analysis with Quantitative SRM), which consists of a number of modules that collectively support the SRM assay development workflow for targeted proteomic experiments (project management and generation of protein, peptide and transitions and the validation of peptide detection by SRM). ATAQS provides a flexible pipeline for end-users by allowing the workflow to start or end at any point of the pipeline, and for computational biologists, by enabling the easy extension of java algorithm classes for their own algorithm plug-in or connection via an external web site.
This integrated system supports all steps in a SRM-based experiment and provides a user-friendly GUI that can be run by any operating system that allows the installation of the Mozilla Firefox web browser.
Targeted proteomics via SRM is a powerful new technique that enables the reproducible and accurate identification and quantification of sets of proteins of interest. ATAQS is the first open-source software that supports all steps of the targeted proteomics workflow. ATAQS also provides software API (Application Program Interface) documentation that enables the addition of new algorithms to each of the workflow steps. The software, installation guide and sample dataset can be found in
PMCID: PMC3213215  PMID: 21414234
6.  Comprehensive quantitative analysis of central carbon and amino-acid metabolism in Saccharomyces cerevisiae under multiple conditions by targeted proteomics 
With a targeted proteomic approach, we could quantify 90% of the enzymes involved in carbon and amino-acid metabolism in yeast, including complete isoenzyme families, throughout a set of different metabolic states.The data, interpreted through flux balance modeling, indicate that S. cerevisiae expresses enzymes, not necessarily used in a particular metabolic condition.For many isoenzymes our data suggest functional diversification, which might explain their parallel presence in the S. cerevisiae genome.
The metabolic network in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae has been very well characterized in terms of components and topology. The adaptation of metabolism to changing nutritional conditions, in contrast, is much less well understood.
In this study, we exploited quantitative proteomic assays based on selected reaction monitoring (SRM) mass spectrometry to comprehensively analyze the set of enzymes involved in carbon and amino-acid metabolism in yeast (Figure 1), throughout a set of different metabolic states. To elucidate how this metabolic network of proteins adapts to environmental challenges, we chose five nutritional conditions resulting in maximal difference in magnitude and direction of metabolic fluxes. We could reproducibly detect and quantify across the different conditions, 90% of the targeted metabolic proteome, including complete families of isoenzymes, sharing up to 99.5% sequence identity and multi-subunit enzyme complexes. This yielded an information-rich proteomic data set that represents a nutritionally perturbed biological system with high coverage of its components.
Interpreted through flux balance modeling, the data indicate that S. cerevisiae expresses—at least at a basal level—more proteins than are actually necessary for sustaining a given metabolic condition. One potential explanation for the presence of non-necessary proteins is that these enzymes could realize immediate basal metabolic fluxes upon a change to new environmental conditions.
Next, we asked whether our data set could contribute to unravel the function of isoenzymes in the metabolic set. Previously proposed roles for isoenzymes include redundancy to buffer against mutations, a means to gene dosage or facilitation of evolutionary innovation and functional diversification. To address the role of isoenzymes in central metabolism, we used hierarchical clustering to analyze the abundance patterns of the metabolic proteins and their relationship to different functional classes and metabolic pathways. Interestingly, while subunits of the same protein complex preferably cluster in proximate branches, members of the same isoenzyme family often clustered in distant branches (Figure 5). The data therefore suggested functional diversification within most isoenzyme families and allowed to propose different functions of divergent isoenzymes.
We expect that the comprehensive data set presented in this study will be an ideal blueprint for further developing models of yeast metabolism and for follow-up studies on the function of target metabolic proteins.
Decades of biochemical research have identified most of the enzymes that catalyze metabolic reactions in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The adaptation of metabolism to changing nutritional conditions, in contrast, is much less well understood. As an important stepping stone toward such understanding, we exploit the power of proteomics assays based on selected reaction monitoring (SRM) mass spectrometry to quantify abundance changes of the 228 proteins that constitute the central carbon and amino-acid metabolic network in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, at five different metabolic steady states. Overall, 90% of the targeted proteins, including families of isoenzymes, were consistently detected and quantified in each sample, generating a proteomic data set that represents a nutritionally perturbed biological system at high reproducibility. The data set is near comprehensive because we detect 95–99% of all proteins that are required under a given condition. Interpreted through flux balance modeling, the data indicate that S. cerevisiae retains proteins not necessarily used in a particular environment. Further, the data suggest differential functionality for several metabolic isoenzymes.
PMCID: PMC3063691  PMID: 21283140
metabolism; S. cerevisiae; SRM; targeted proteomics
7.  Comparative Functional Analysis of the Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster Proteomes 
PLoS Biology  2009;7(3):e1000048.
The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is a popular model system in genetics, not least because a majority of human disease genes are conserved in C. elegans. To generate a comprehensive inventory of its expressed proteome, we performed extensive shotgun proteomics and identified more than half of all predicted C. elegans proteins. This allowed us to confirm and extend genome annotations, characterize the role of operons in C. elegans, and semiquantitatively infer abundance levels for thousands of proteins. Furthermore, for the first time to our knowledge, we were able to compare two animal proteomes (C. elegans and Drosophila melanogaster). We found that the abundances of orthologous proteins in metazoans correlate remarkably well, better than protein abundance versus transcript abundance within each organism or transcript abundances across organisms; this suggests that changes in transcript abundance may have been partially offset during evolution by opposing changes in protein abundance.
Author Summary
Proteins are the active players that execute the genetic program of a cell, and their levels and interactions are precisely controlled. Routinely monitoring thousands of proteins is difficult, as they can be present at vastly different abundances, come with various sizes, shapes, and charge, and have a more complex alphabet of twenty “letters,” in contrast to the four letters of the genome itself. Here, we used mass spectrometry to extensively characterize the proteins of a popular model organism, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Together with previous data from the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, this allows us to compare the protein levels of two animals on a global scale. Surprisingly, we find that individual protein abundance is highly conserved between the two species. So, although worms and flies look very different, they need similar amounts of each conserved, orthologous protein. Because many C. elegans and D. melanogaster proteins also have counterparts in humans, our results suggest that similar rules may apply to our own proteins.
A quantitative comparison of two animal proteomes shows a striking correlation of protein abundance levels, a better correlation than transcript levels. Are the latter more variable during evolution?
PMCID: PMC2650730  PMID: 19260763

Results 1-7 (7)