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Improving Mass Defect Filters for Human Proteins

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journal contribution
posted on 01.10.2010, 00:00 authored by Melinda L. Toumi, Heather Desaire
The mass defect of a substance can be used in mass spectral analysis to identify peaks as likely belonging to a compound class, such as peptides, if the mass defect is within the known range for that compound class. For peptides, a range of possible mass defects was calculated previously, using a set of theoretical peptides, where all possible amino acid combinations were considered (Mann, M. Abstract from the 43rd Annual Conference on Mass Spectrometry and Allied Topics; Conference Proceedings, 1995). We compare that range of theoretical peptide mass defects to new values obtained from in silico tryptic digests of proteins that are abundant in human serum and human seminal fluid. The range of mass defect values encompassing 95% of peptides for the human protein data sets was found to be up to 50% smaller than the previously reported mass defect range for the theoretical peptides. The smaller range established for human tryptic peptides can be used to improve peptide mass defect filters by excluding more species that are not likely to be peptides, thus improving filter selectivity for peptides during proteomic data analysis.