Granlund I, Kieselbach T, Alm R, Schröder WP, Emanuelsson C
Clustering of MS spectra for improved protein identification rate and screening for protein variants and modifications by MALDI-MS/MS
J Proteomics.; 2011, 12;74(8):1190-200

Abstract
It is an established fact that allelic variation and post-translational modifications create different variants of proteins, which are observed as isoelectric and size subspecies in two-dimensional gel based proteomics. Here we explore the stromal proteome of spinach and Arabidopsis chloroplast and show that clustering of mass spectra is a useful tool for investigating such variants and detecting modified peptides with amino acid substitutions or post-translational modifications. This study employs data mining by hierarchical clustering of MALDI-MS spectra, using the web version of the SPECLUST program (http://bioinfo.thep.lu.se/speclust.html). The tool can also be used to remove peaks of contaminating proteins and to improve protein identification, especially for species without a fully sequenced genome. Mutually exclusive peptide peaks within a cluster provide a good starting point for MS/MS investigation of modified peptides, here exemplified by the identification of an A to E substitution that accounts for the isoelectric heterogeneity in protein isoforms.

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