Clinical proteomics requires large-scale analysis of human specimens to achieve statistical significance. We evaluated the long-term reproducibility of an iTRAQ (isobaric tags for relative and absolute quantification)-based quantitative proteomics strategy using one channel for reference across all samples in different iTRAQ sets. A total of 148 liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometric (LC-MS/MS) analyses were completed, generating six 2D LC-MS/MS data sets for human-in-mouse breast cancer xenograft tissues representative of basal and luminal subtypes. Such large-scale studies require the implementation of robust metrics to assess the contributions of technical and biological variability in the qualitative and quantitative data. Accordingly, we derived a quantification confidence score based on the quality of each peptide-spectrum match to remove quantification outliers from each analysis. After combining confidence score filtering and statistical analysis, reproducible protein identification and quantitative results were achieved from LC-MS/MS data sets collected over a 7-month period. This study provides the first quality assessment on long-term stability and technical considerations for study design of a large-scale clinical proteomics project.
Keywords: Cancer Biology and Disease Human Proteome Project; clinical proteomics; iTRAQ; quantification; tumor tissues.