U.S. Department of Energy

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

QC-ART: A Tool for Real-Time Quality Control Assessment of Mass Spectrometry-based Proteomics Data

Publish Date: 
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS)-based proteomics studies of large sample cohorts can easily require from months to years to complete. Acquiring consistent, high-quality data in such large-scale studies is challenging because of normal variations in instrumentation performance over time, as well as artifacts introduced by the samples themselves, such as those due to collection, storage and processing. Existing quality control methods for proteomics data primarily focus on post-hoc analysis to remove low-quality data that would degrade downstream statistics; they are not designed to evaluate the data in near real-time, which would allow for interventions as soon as deviations in data quality are detected. In addition to flagging analyses that demonstrate outlier behavior, evaluating how the data structure changes over time can aide in understanding typical instrument performance or identify issues such as a degradation in data quality due to the need for instrument cleaning and/or re-calibration. To address this gap for proteomics, we developed Quality Control Analysis in Real-Time (QC-ART), a tool for evaluating data as they are acquired in order to dynamically flag potential issues with instrument performance or sample quality. QC-ART has similar accuracy as standard post-hoc analysis methods with the additional benefit of real-time analysis. We demonstrate the utility and performance of QC-ART in identifying deviations in data quality due to both instrument and sample issues in near real-time for LC-MS-based plasma proteomics analyses of a sample subset of The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young cohort. We also present a case where QC-ART facilitated the identification of oxidative modifications, which are often underappreciated in proteomic experiments.
Stanfill B.A., E.S. Nakayasu, L.M. Bramer, A.M. Thompson, C.K. Ansong, T. Clauss, and M.A. Gritsenko, et al. 2018. "QC-ART: A tool for real-time quality control assessment of mass spectrometry-based proteomics data." Molecular and Cellular Proteomics. PNNL-SA-129934. doi:10.1074/mcp.RA118.000648
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