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Proteomics. 2012 May;12(10):1639-55. doi: 10.1002/pmic.201100537.

Computational and informatics strategies for identification of specific protein interaction partners in affinity purification mass spectrometry experiments.

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Department of Pathology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.


Analysis of protein interaction networks and protein complexes using affinity purification and mass spectrometry (AP/MS) is among most commonly used and successful applications of proteomics technologies. One of the foremost challenges of AP/MS data is a large number of false-positive protein interactions present in unfiltered data sets. Here we review computational and informatics strategies for detecting specific protein interaction partners in AP/MS experiments, with a focus on incomplete (as opposite to genome wide) interactome mapping studies. These strategies range from standard statistical approaches, to empirical scoring schemes optimized for a particular type of data, to advanced computational frameworks. The common denominator among these methods is the use of label-free quantitative information such as spectral counts or integrated peptide intensities that can be extracted from AP/MS data. We also discuss related issues such as combining multiple biological or technical replicates, and dealing with data generated using different tagging strategies. Computational approaches for benchmarking of scoring methods are discussed, and the need for generation of reference AP/MS data sets is highlighted. Finally, we discuss the possibility of more extended modeling of experimental AP/MS data, including integration with external information such as protein interaction predictions based on functional genomics data.

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