Moruz L, Hoopmann MR, Rosenlund M, Granholm V, Moritz RL, Käll L
J. Proteome Res. 12 (12) 5730-5741 [2013-12-06; online 2013-10-11]
In typical shotgun experiments, the mass spectrometer records the masses of a large set of ionized analytes but fragments only a fraction of them. In the subsequent analyses, normally only the fragmented ions are used to compile a set of peptide identifications, while the unfragmented ones are disregarded. In this work, we show how the unfragmented ions, here denoted MS1-features, can be used to increase the confidence of the proteins identified in shotgun experiments. Specifically, we propose the usage of in silico mass tags, where the observed MS1-features are matched against de novo predicted masses and retention times for all peptides derived from a sequence database. We present a statistical model to assign protein-level probabilities based on the MS1-features and combine this data with the fragmentation spectra. Our approach was evaluated for two triplicate data sets from yeast and human, respectively, leading to up to 7% more protein identifications at a fixed protein-level false discovery rate of 1%. The additional protein identifications were validated both in the context of the mass spectrometry data and by examining their estimated transcript levels generated using RNA-Seq. The proposed method is reproducible, straightforward to apply, and can even be used to reanalyze and increase the yield of existing data sets.