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J Mass Spectrom. 2013 Apr;48(4):487-96. doi: 10.1002/jms.3184.

Evaluation of the sensitivity of the 'Wiley registry of tandem mass spectral data, MSforID' with MS/MS data of the 'NIST/NIH/EPA mass spectral library'.

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Institute of Legal Medicine, Innsbruck Medical University, Innsbruck, Austria.


Tandem mass spectral libraries are versatile tools for small molecular identification finding application in forensic science, doping control, drug monitoring, food and environmental analysis, as well as metabolomics. Two important libraries are the 'Wiley Registry of Tandem Mass Spectral Data, MSforID' (Wiley Registry MSMS) and the collection of MS/MS spectra part of the 2011 edition of the 'NIST/NIH/EPA Mass Spectral Library' (NIST 11 MSMS). Herein, the sensitivity and robustness of the Wiley Registry MSMS were evaluated using spectra extracted from the NIST 11 MSMS library. The sample set was found to be heterogeneous in terms of mass spectral resolution, type of CID, as well as applied collision energies. Nevertheless, sensitive compound identification with a true positive identification rate ≥95% was possible using either the MSforID Search program or the NIST MS Search program 2.0g for matching. To rate the performance of the Wiley Registry MSMS, cross-validation experiments were repeated using subcollections of NIST 11 MSMS as reference library and spectra extracted from the Wiley Registry MSMS as positive controls. Unexpectedly, with both search algorithms tested, correct results were obtained in less than 88% of cases. We examined possible causes for the results of the cross validation study. The large number of precursor ions represented by a single tandem mass spectrum only was identified as the basic cause for the comparably lower sensitivity of the NIST library.

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