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Mol Cell Proteomics. 2006 Jul;5(7):1326-37. Epub 2006 Apr 23.

Optimization and use of peptide mass measurement accuracy in shotgun proteomics.

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Department of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Mass spectrometers that provide high mass accuracy such as FT-ICR instruments are increasingly used in proteomic studies. Although the importance of accurately determined molecular masses for the identification of biomolecules is generally accepted, its role in the analysis of shotgun proteomic data has not been thoroughly studied. To gain insight into this role, we used a hybrid linear quadrupole ion trap/FT-ICR (LTQ FT) mass spectrometer for LC-MS/MS analysis of a highly complex peptide mixture derived from a fraction of the yeast proteome. We applied three data-dependent MS/MS acquisition methods. The FT-ICR part of the hybrid mass spectrometer was either not exploited, used only for survey MS scans, or also used for acquiring selected ion monitoring scans to optimize mass accuracy. MS/MS data were assigned with the SEQUEST algorithm, and peptide identifications were validated by estimating the number of incorrect assignments using the composite target/decoy database search strategy. We developed a simple mass calibration strategy exploiting polydimethylcyclosiloxane background ions as calibrant ions. This strategy allowed us to substantially improve mass accuracy without reducing the number of MS/MS spectra acquired in an LC-MS/MS run. The benefits of high mass accuracy were greatest for assigning MS/MS spectra with low signal-to-noise ratios and for assigning phosphopeptides. Confident peptide identification rates from these data sets could be doubled by the use of mass accuracy information. It was also shown that improving mass accuracy at a cost to the MS/MS acquisition rate substantially lowered the sensitivity of LC-MS/MS analyses. The use of FT-ICR selected ion monitoring scans to maximize mass accuracy reduced the number of protein identifications by 40%.

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