Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry

Assessment of resolution parameters for CID-based shotgun proteomic experiments on the LTQ-Orbitrap mass spectrometer.

PMID 20483638


Shotgun proteomics has been used extensively for characterization of a number of proteomes. High-resolution Fourier transform mass spectrometry (FTMS) has emerged as a powerful tool owing to its high mass accuracy and resolving power. One of its major limitations, however, is that the confidence level of peptide identification and sensitivity cannot be maximized simultaneously. Although it is generally assumed that higher resolution is better for peptide identifications, the precise effect of varying resolution as a parameter on peptide identification has not yet been systematically evaluated. We used the Escherichia coli proteome and a standard 48 protein mix to study the effect of different resolution parameters on peptide identifications in the setting of a shotgun proteomics experiment on an LTQ-Orbitrap mass spectrometer. We observed a higher number of peptide-spectrum matches (PSMs) whenever the MS scan was carried out by FT and the MS/MS in the ion-trap (IT) with the maximum PSMs obtained at an MS resolution of 30,000. In contrast, when samples were analyzed by FT for both MS and MS/MS, the number of PSMs was significantly lower (approximately 40% compared with FT-IT experiments) with the maximum PSMs obtained when both the MS and MS/MS resolution were set to 15,000. Thus, a 15K-15K resolution setting may provide the best compromise for studies where both speed and accuracy such as high-throughput post-translational analysis and de novo sequencing are important. We hope that our study will allow researchers to choose between different resolution parameters to achieve their desired results from proteomic analyses.

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