ABRF Proteome Informatics Research Group (iPRG) 2016 Study: Inferring Proteoforms from Bottom-up Proteomics Data

J Biomol Tech. 2018 Jul;29(2):39-45. doi: 10.7171/jbt.18-2902-003. Epub 2018 Jun 21.


This report presents the results from the 2016 Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities Proteome Informatics Research Group (iPRG) study on proteoform inference and false discovery rate (FDR) estimation from bottom-up proteomics data. For this study, 3 replicate Q Exactive Orbitrap liquid chromatography-tandom mass spectrometry datasets were generated from each of 4 Escherichia coli samples spiked with different equimolar mixtures of small recombinant proteins selected to mimic pairs of homologous proteins. Participants were given raw data and a sequence file and asked to identify the proteins and provide estimates on the FDR at the proteoform level. As part of this study, we tested a new submission system with a format validator running on a virtual private server (VPS) and allowed methods to be provided as executable R Markdown or IPython Notebooks. The task was perceived as difficult, and only eight unique submissions were received, although those who participated did well with no one method performing best on all samples. However, none of the submissions included a complete Markdown or Notebook, even though examples were provided. Future iPRG studies need to be more successful in promoting and encouraging participation. The VPS and submission validator easily scale to much larger numbers of participants in these types of studies. The unique "ground-truth" dataset for proteoform identification generated for this study is now available to the research community, as are the server-side scripts for validating and managing submissions.

Keywords: best practice; community study; false discovery rate; inference.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Computational Biology / trends*
  • Databases, Factual*
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Humans
  • Proteome / genetics*
  • Proteomics / trends*
  • Software
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Proteome