Lessons in de novo peptide sequencing by tandem mass spectrometry

Authors

  • Katalin F. Medzihradszky,

    Corresponding author
    1. Mass Spectrometry Facility, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, School of Pharmacy, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
    2. Laboratory of Proteomics Research, Institute of Biochemistry, HAS Biological Research Centre, Szeged, Hungary
    • Correspondence to: Katalin F. Medzihradszky, Mass Spectrometry Facility, UCSF, 600 16th Street, Genentech Hall, suite N472A, Box 2240, San Francisco, CA 94158-2517.

      E-mail: folkl@cgl.ucsf.edu

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  • Robert J. Chalkley

    1. Mass Spectrometry Facility, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, School of Pharmacy, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
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Abstract

Mass spectrometry has become the method of choice for the qualitative and quantitative characterization of protein mixtures isolated from all kinds of living organisms. The raw data in these studies are MS/MS spectra, usually of peptides produced by proteolytic digestion of a protein. These spectra are “translated” into peptide sequences, normally with the help of various search engines. Data acquisition and interpretation have both been automated, and most researchers look only at the summary of the identifications without ever viewing the underlying raw data used for assignments. Automated analysis of data is essential due to the volume produced. However, being familiar with the finer intricacies of peptide fragmentation processes, and experiencing the difficulties of manual data interpretation allow a researcher to be able to more critically evaluate key results, particularly because there are many known rules of peptide fragmentation that are not incorporated into search engine scoring. Since the most commonly used MS/MS activation method is collision-induced dissociation (CID), in this article we present a brief review of the history of peptide CID analysis. Next, we provide a detailed tutorial on how to determine peptide sequences from CID data. Although the focus of the tutorial is de novo sequencing, the lessons learned and resources supplied are useful for data interpretation in general. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Mass Spec Rev 34: 43–63, 2015.

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