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Evaluating the Characteristics of Reporter Ion Signal Acquired in the Orbitrap Analyzer for Isobaric Mass Tag Proteome Quantification Experiments

Hughes, Christopher S., Zhu, Chenchen, Spicer, Victor, Krokhin, Oleg V., Morin, Gregg B.
Journal of Proteome Research 2017 v.16 no.5 pp. 1831-1838
guidelines, peptides, proteome, spectrometers
Multiplexed quantification with isobaric chemical tags (e.g., TMT, iTRAQ) provides a robust and efficient means to comparatively examine proteome dynamics between several biological states using a mass spectrometer (MS). The quantitative nature of isobaric tags necessitates strict validation of the observed ion signals in the chosen MS detector before differential patterns are extracted between biological states. We present an in-depth analysis of isobaric tag data acquired on current generation Orbitrap MS hardware to illustrate pitfalls in acquisition settings that can negatively impact results. We establish, for the first time, the presence of a notch, a region of no observed values, in the reporter ion distributions from isobaric-labeled peptide mixtures acquired on these instruments. We determine that this notch is present in published data across a wide range of instruments of the same or different type and is isolated to the Orbitrap mass analyzer. We demonstrate that the impact of the notch can be minimized using manipulations of Orbitrap scan parameters and on-column injection amounts. Lastly, using a mixture of synthetic standard peptides we investigated the impact on identification rates and quantification precision. Together, these data highlight an important phenomenon that negatively impacts peptide identification and quantification in the Orbitrap analyzer as well as outlining guidelines to follow to ensure minimization of MS-induced artifacts in isobaric tag experiments resulting from the notch.