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Electrophoresis. 2000 Jun;21(11):2243-51.

Automatic poisson peak harvesting for high throughput protein identification.

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Proteome Systems Ltd., North Ryde, NSW, Australia.


High throughput identification of proteins by peptide mass fingerprinting requires an efficient means of picking peaks from mass spectra. Here, we report the development of a peak harvester to automatically pick monoisotopic peaks from spectra generated on matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation time of flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometers. The peak harvester uses advanced mathematical morphology and watershed algorithms to first process spectra to stick representations. Subsequently, Poisson modelling is applied to determine which peak in an isotopically resolved group represents the monoisotopic mass of a peptide. We illustrate the features of the peak harvester with mass spectra of standard peptides, digests of gel-separated bovine serum albumin, and with Escherictia coli proteins prepared by two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. In all cases, the peak harvester proved effective in its ability to pick similar monoisotopic peaks as an experienced human operator, and also proved effective in the identification of monoisotopic masses in cases where isotopic distributions of peptides were overlapping. The peak harvester can be operated in an interactive mode, or can be completely automated and linked through to peptide mass fingerprinting protein identification tools to achieve high throughput automated protein identification.

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