Precursor charge state prediction for electron transfer dissociation tandem mass spectra

Vagisha Sharma, Jimmy K. Eng, Sergey Feldman, Priska von Haller, Michael J. MacCoss and William Stafford Noble

Journal of Proteome Research. 9(10):5438-5444, 2010.


Electron-transfer dissociation (ETD) induces fragmentation along the peptide backbone by transferring an electron from a radical anion to a protonated peptide. In contrast with collision-induced dissociation, side chains and modifications such as phosphorylation are left intact through the ETD process. Because the precursor charge state is an important input to MS/MS sequence database search tools, the ability to accurately determine the precursor charge is helpful for the identification process. Furthermore, because ETD can be applied to large, highly charged peptides, the need for accurate precursor charge state determination is magnified. Otherwise, each spectrum must be searched repeatedly using a large range of possible precursor charge states. To address this problem, we have developed an ETD charge state prediction tool based on support vector machine classifiers that is demonstrated to exhibit superior classification accuracy while minimizing the overall number of predicted charge states. The tool is freely available, open source, cross platform compatible, and demonstrated to perform well when compared with an existing charge state prediction tool. The program is available from

Journal of Proteome Research