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OMICS. 2005 Winter;9(4):364-79.

Randomized sequence databases for tandem mass spectrometry peptide and protein identification.

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The BIATECH Institute, 19310 N. Creek Parkway South, Suite 115, Bothell, WA 98011, USA.


Tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) combined with database searching is currently the most widely used method for high-throughput peptide and protein identification. Many different algorithms, scoring criteria, and statistical models have been used to identify peptides and proteins in complex biological samples, and many studies, including our own, describe the accuracy of these identifications, using at best generic terms such as "high confidence." False positive identification rates for these criteria can vary substantially with changing organisms under study, growth conditions, sequence databases, experimental protocols, and instrumentation; therefore, study-specific methods are needed to estimate the accuracy (false positive rates) of these peptide and protein identifications. We present and evaluate methods for estimating false positive identification rates based on searches of randomized databases (reversed and reshuffled). We examine the use of separate searches of a forward then a randomized database and combined searches of a randomized database appended to a forward sequence database. Estimated error rates from randomized database searches are first compared against actual error rates from MS/MS runs of known protein standards. These methods are then applied to biological samples of the model microorganism Shewanella oneidensis strain MR-1. Based on the results obtained in this study, we recommend the use of use of combined searches of a reshuffled database appended to a forward sequence database as a means providing quantitative estimates of false positive identification rates of peptides and proteins. This will allow researchers to set criteria and thresholds to achieve a desired error rate and provide the scientific community with direct and quantifiable measures of peptide and protein identification accuracy as opposed to vague assessments such as "high confidence."

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