Hultin-Rosenberg L, Forshed J, Branca RM, Lehtiö J, Johansson HJ
Mol. Cell Proteomics 12 (7) 2021-2031 [2013-07-00; online 2013-03-07]
The purpose of this study was to generate a basis for the decision of what protein quantities are reliable and find a way for accurate and precise protein quantification. To investigate this we have used thousands of peptide measurements to estimate variance and bias for quantification by iTRAQ (isobaric tags for relative and absolute quantification) mass spectrometry in complex human samples. A549 cell lysate was mixed in the proportions 2:2:1:1:2:2:1:1, fractionated by high resolution isoelectric focusing and liquid chromatography and analyzed by three mass spectrometry platforms; LTQ Orbitrap Velos, 4800 MALDI-TOF/TOF and 6530 Q-TOF. We have investigated how variance and bias in the iTRAQ reporter ions data are affected by common experimental variables such as sample amount, sample fractionation, fragmentation energy, and instrument platform. Based on this, we have suggested a concept for experimental design and a methodology for protein quantification. By using duplicate samples in each run, each experiment is validated based on its internal experimental variation. The duplicates are used for calculating peptide weights, unique to the experiment, which is used in the protein quantification. By weighting the peptides depending on reporter ion intensity, we can decrease the relative error in quantification at the protein level and assign a total weight to each protein that reflects the protein quantitation confidence. We also demonstrate the usability of this methodology in a cancer cell line experiment as well as in a clinical data set of lung cancer tissue samples. In conclusion, we have in this study developed a methodology for improved protein quantification in shotgun proteomics and introduced a way to assess quantification for proteins with few peptides. The experimental design and developed algorithms decreased the relative protein quantification error in the analysis of complex biological samples.