Systematic evaluation of alternating CID and ETD fragmentation for phosphorylated peptides
CID has become a routine method for fragmentation of peptides in shotgun proteomics, whereas electron transfer dissociation (ETD) has been described as a preferred method for peptides carrying labile PTMs. Though both of these fragmentation techniques have their obvious advantages, they also have their own drawbacks. By combining data from CID and ETD fragmentation, some of these disadvantages can potentially be overcome because of the complementarity of fragment ions produced. To evaluate alternating CID and ETD fragmentation, we analyzed a complex mixture of phosphopeptides on an LTQ-Orbitrap mass spectrometer. When the CID and ETD-derived spectra were searched separately, we observed 2504, 491, 2584, and 3249 phosphopeptide-spectrum matches from CID alone, ETD alone, decision tree-based CID/ETD, and alternating CID and ETD, respectively. Combining CID and ETD spectra prior to database searching should, intuitively, be superior to either method alone. However, when spectra from the alternating CID and ETD method were merged prior to database searching, we observed a reduction in the number of phosphopeptide-spectrum matches. The poorer identification rates observed after merging CID and ETD spectra are a reflection of a lack of optimized search algorithms for carrying out such searches and perhaps inherent weaknesses of this approach. Thus, although alternating CID and ETD experiments for phosphopeptide identification are desirable for increasing the confidence of identifications, merging spectra prior to database search has to be carefully evaluated further in the context of the various algorithms before adopting it as a routine strategy.
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