A new algorithm for the evaluation of shotgun peptide sequencing in proteomics: support vector machine classification of peptide MS/MS spectra and SEQUEST scores

J Proteome Res. 2003 Mar-Apr;2(2):137-46. doi: 10.1021/pr0255654.


Shotgun tandem mass spectrometry-based peptide sequencing using programs such as SEQUEST allows high-throughput identification of peptides, which in turn allows the identification of corresponding proteins. We have applied a machine learning algorithm, called the support vector machine, to discriminate between correctly and incorrectly identified peptides using SEQUEST output. Each peptide was characterized by SEQUEST-calculated features such as delta Cn and Xcorr, measurements such as precursor ion current and mass, and additional calculated parameters such as the fraction of matched MS/MS peaks. The trained SVM classifier performed significantly better than previous cutoff-based methods at separating positive from negative peptides. Positive and negative peptides were more readily distinguished in training set data acquired on a QTOF, compared to an ion trap mass spectrometer. The use of 13 features, including four new parameters, significantly improved the separation between positive and negative peptides. Use of the support vector machine and these additional parameters resulted in a more accurate interpretation of peptide MS/MS spectra and is an important step toward automated interpretation of peptide tandem mass spectrometry data in proteomics.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Expert Systems
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Mass Spectrometry / standards
  • Peptides / analysis*
  • Proteins / analysis
  • Proteomics / instrumentation
  • Proteomics / methods
  • Sequence Analysis, Protein / methods*
  • Sequence Analysis, Protein / standards


  • Peptides
  • Proteins