Improving Spectral Validation Rates in Hydrogen-Deuterium Exchange Data Analysis

Anal Chem. 2021 Mar 9;93(9):4246-4254. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.0c05045. Epub 2021 Feb 16.


The data analysis practices associated with hydrogen-deuterium exchange mass spectrometry (HX-MS) lag far behind that of most other MS-based protein analysis tools. A reliance on external tools from other fields and a persistent need for manual data validation restrict this powerful technology to the expert user. Here, we provide an extensive upgrade to the HX data analysis suite available in the Mass Spec Studio in the form of two new apps (HX-PIPE and HX-DEAL), completing a workflow that provides an HX-tailored peptide identification capability, accelerated validation routines, automated spectral deconvolution strategies, and a rich set of exportable graphics and statistical reports. With these new tools, we demonstrate that the peptide identifications obtained from undeuterated samples generated at the start of a project contain information that helps predict and control the extent of manual validation required. We also uncover a large fraction of HX-usable peptides that remains unidentified in most experiments. We show that automated spectral deconvolution routines can identify exchange regimes in a project-wide manner, although they remain difficult to accurately assign in all scenarios. Taken together, these new tools provide a robust and complete solution suitable for the analysis of high-complexity HX-MS data.