Mass spectrometry (MS) is producing high volumes of data supporting oncological sciences, especially for translational research. Most of related elaborations can be carried out by combining existing tools at different levels, but little is currently available for the automation of the fundamental steps.
For the analysis of MALDI/TOF spectra, a number of pre-processing steps are required, including joining of isotopic abundances for a given molecular species, normalization of signals against an internal standard, background noise removal, averaging multiple spectra from the same sample, and aligning spectra from different samples.
In this paper, we present Geena 2, a public software tool for the automated execution of these pre-processing steps for MALDI/TOF spectra.
Geena 2 has been developed in a Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP web development environment, with scripts in PHP and Perl. Input and output are managed as simple formats that can be consumed by any database system and spreadsheet software. Input data may also be stored in a MySQL database. Processing methods are based on original heuristic algorithms which are introduced in the paper.
Three simple and intuitive web interfaces are available: the Standard Search Interface, which allows a complete control over all parameters, the Bright Search Interface, which leaves to the user the possibility to tune parameters for alignment of spectra, and the Quick Search Interface, which limits the number of parameters to a minimum by using default values for the majority of parameters.
Geena 2 has been utilized, in conjunction with a statistical analysis tool, in three published experimental works: a proteomic study on the effects of long-term cryopreservation on the low molecular weight fraction of serum proteome, and two retrospective serum proteomic studies, one on the risk of developing breat cancer in patients affected by gross cystic disease of the breast (GCDB) and the other for the identification of a predictor of breast cancer mortality following breast cancer surgery, whose results were validated by ELISA, a completely alternative method.
Geena 2 is a public tool for the automated pre-processing of MS data originated by MALDI/TOF instruments, with a simple and intuitive web interface. It is now under active development for the inclusion of further filtering options and for the adoption of standard formats for MS spectra.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12859-016-0911-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.