Learning peptide-spectrum alignment models for tandem mass spectrometry

John T. Halloran, Jeff A. Bilmes, and William S. Noble

Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence(UAI). AUAI, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, July 2014.


We present a peptide-spectrum alignment strategy that employs a dynamic Bayesian network (DBN) for the identification of spectra produced by tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS). Our method is fundamentally generative in that it models peptide fragmentation in MS/MS as a physical process. The model traverses an observed MS/MS spectrum and a peptide-based theoretical spectrum to calculate the best alignment between the two spectra. Unlike all existing state-of-the-art methods for spectrum identification that we are aware of, our method can learn alignment probabilities given a dataset of high-quality peptide-spectrum pairs. The method, moreover, accounts for noise peaks and absent theoretical peaks in the observed spectrum. We demonstrate that our method outperforms, on a majority of datasets, several widely used, state-of-the-art database search tools for spectrum identification. Furthermore, the proposed approach provides an extensible framework for MS/MS analysis and provides useful information that is not produced by other methods, thanks to its generative structure.

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