Quality control of single amino acid variations detected by tandem mass spectrometry

J Proteomics. 2018 Sep 15;187:144-151. doi: 10.1016/j.jprot.2018.07.004. Epub 2018 Jul 23.


Study of single amino acid variations (SAVs) of proteins, resulting from single nucleotide polymorphisms, is of great importance for understanding the relationships between genotype and phenotype. In mass spectrometry based shotgun proteomics, identification of peptides with SAVs often suffers from high error rates on the variant sites detected. These site errors are due to multiple reasons and can be confirmed by manual inspection or genomic sequencing. Here, we present a software tool, named SAVControl, for site-level quality control of variant peptide identifications. It mainly includes strict false discovery rate control of variant peptide identifications and variant site verification by unrestrictive mass shift relocalization. SAVControl was validated on three colorectal adenocarcinoma cell line datasets with genomic sequencing evidences and tested on a colorectal cancer dataset from The Cancer Genome Atlas. The results show that SAVControl can effectively remove false detections of SAVs.

Significance: Protein sequence variations caused by single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are single amino acid variations (SAVs). The investigation of SAVs may provide a chance for understanding the relationships between genotype and phenotype. Mass spectrometry (MS) based proteomics provides a large-scale way to detect SAVs. However, using the current analysis strategy to detect SAVs may lead to high rate of false positives. The SAVControl we present here is a computational workflow and software tool for site-level quality control of SAVs detected by MS. It accesses the confidence of detected variant sites by relocating the mass shift responsible for an SAV to search for alternative interpretations. In addition, it uses a strict false discovery rate control method for variant peptide identifications. The advantages of SAVControl were demonstrated on three colorectal adenocarcinoma cell line datasets and a colorectal cancer dataset. We believe that SAVControl will be a powerful tool for computational proteomics and proteogenomics.

Keywords: False discovery rate; Mass spectrometry; Peptide identification; Single amino acid variations; Unrestrictive mass shift relocalization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / genetics
  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Amino Acid Substitution*
  • Amino Acids / analysis*
  • Amino Acids / chemistry
  • Amino Acids / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Databases, Protein
  • Datasets as Topic
  • HCT116 Cells
  • Humans
  • Mutation, Missense
  • Peptides / analysis
  • Peptides / chemistry
  • Peptides / genetics
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Proteomics / methods*
  • Quality Control
  • Search Engine
  • Software
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / standards
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Amino Acids
  • Peptides