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Computational Methods for Protein Inference in Shotgun Proteomics Experiments

  • Since the beginning of this millennium, the advent of high-throughput methods in numerous fields of the life sciences led to a shift in paradigms. A broad variety of technologies emerged that allow comprehensive quantification of molecules involved in biological processes. Simultaneously, a major increase in data volume has been recorded with these techniques through enhanced instrumentation and other technical advances. By supplying computational methods that automatically process raw data to obtain biological information, the field of bioinformatics plays an increasingly important role in the analysis of the ever-growing mass of data. Computational mass spectrometry in particular, is a bioinformatics field of research which provides means to gather, analyze and visualize data from high-throughput mass spectrometric experiments. For the study of the entirety of proteins in a cell or an environmental sample, even current techniques reach limitations that need to be circumvented by simplifying the samples subjected to the mass spectrometer. These pre-digested (so-called bottom-up) proteomics experiments then pose an even bigger computational burden during analysis since complex ambiguities need to be resolved during protein inference, grouping and quantification. In this thesis, we present several developments in the pursuit of our goal to provide means for a fully automated analysis of complex and large-scale bottom-up proteomics experiments. Firstly, due to prohibitive computational complexities in state-of-the-art Bayesian protein inference techniques, a refined, more stable technique for performing inference on sums of random variables was developed to enable a variation of standard Bayesian inference for the problem. nextflow and part of a set of standardized, well-tested, and community-maintained workflows by the nf-core collective. Our workflow runs on large-scale data with complex experimental designs and allows a one-command analysis of local and publicly available data sets with state-of-the-art accuracy on various high-performance computing environments or the cloud.

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Author:Julianus PfeufferORCiD
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Granting Institution:Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
Advisor:Oliver Kohlbacher, Knut Reinert
Date of final exam:2022/11/15
Year of first publication:2023
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