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J Proteome Res. 2012 Apr 6;11(4):2261-71. doi: 10.1021/pr201052x. Epub 2012 Feb 29.

Comparative analysis of different label-free mass spectrometry based protein abundance estimates and their correlation with RNA-Seq gene expression data.

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Department of Pathology and §Department of Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, United States.


An increasing number of studies involve integrative analysis of gene and protein expression data taking advantage of new technologies such as next-generation transcriptome sequencing (RNA-Seq) and highly sensitive mass spectrometry (MS) instrumentation. Thus, it becomes interesting to revisit the correlative analysis of gene and protein expression data using more recently generated data sets. Furthermore, within the proteomics community there is a substantial interest in comparing the performance of different label-free quantitative proteomic strategies. Gene expression data can be used as an indirect benchmark for such protein-level comparisons. In this work we use publicly available mouse data to perform a joint analysis of genomic and proteomic data obtained on the same organism. First, we perform a comparative analysis of different label-free protein quantification methods (intensity based and spectral count based and using various associated data normalization steps) using several software tools on the proteomic side. Similarly, we perform correlative analysis of gene expression data derived using microarray and RNA-Seq methods on the genomic side. We also investigate the correlation between gene and protein expression data, and various factors affecting the accuracy of quantitation at both levels. It is observed that spectral count based protein abundance metrics, which are easy to extract from any published data, are comparable to intensity based measures with respect to correlation with gene expression data. The results of this work should be useful for designing robust computational pipelines for extraction and joint analysis of gene and protein expression data in the context of integrative studies.

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