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Quantify this! Report on a round table discussion on quantitative mass spectrometry in proteomics.
Following the success of the first round table in 2001, the Swiss Proteomic Society has organized two additional specific events during its last two meetings: a proteomic application exercise in 2002 and a round table in 2003. Such events have as their main objective to bring together, around a challenging topic in mass spectrometry, two groups of specialists, those who develop and commercialize mass spectrometry equipment and software, and expert MS users for peptidomics and proteomics studies. The first round table (Geneva, 2001) entitled "Challenges in Mass Spectrometry" was supported by brief oral presentations that stressed critical questions in the field of MS development or applications (Stöcklin and Binz, Proteomics 2002, 2, 825-827). Topics such as (i) direct analysis of complex biological samples, (ii) status and perspectives for MS investigations of noncovalent peptide-ligant interactions; (iii) is it more appropriate to have complementary instruments rather than a universal equipment, (iv) standardization and improvement of the MS signals for protein identification, (v) what would be the new generation of equipment and finally (vi) how to keep hardware and software adapted to MS up-to-date and accessible to all. For the SPS'02 meeting (Lausanne, 2002), a full session alternative event "Proteomic Application Exercise" was proposed. Two different samples were prepared and sent to the different participants: 100 micro g of snake venom (a complex mixture of peptides and proteins) and 10-20 micro g of almost pure recombinant polypeptide derived from the shrimp Penaeus vannamei carrying an heterogeneous post-translational modification (PTM). Among the 15 participants that received the samples blind, eight returned results and most of them were asked to present their results emphasizing the strategy, the manpower and the instrumentation used during the congress (Binz et. al., Proteomics 2003, 3, 1562-1566). It appeared that for the snake venom extract, the quality of the results was not particularly dependant on the strategy used, as all approaches allowed Lication of identification of a certain number of protein families. The genus of the snake was identified in most cases, but the species was ambiguous. Surprisingly, the precise identification of the recombinant almost pure polypeptides appeared to be much more complicated than expected as only one group reported the full sequence. Finally the SPS'03 meeting reported here included a round table on the difficult and challenging task of "Quantification by Mass Spectrometry", a discussion sustained by four selected oral presentations on the use of stable isotopes, electrospray ionization versus matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization approaches to quantify peptides and proteins in biological fluids, the handling of differential two-dimensional liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry data resulting from high throughput experiments, and the quantitative analysis of PTMs. During these three events at the SPS meetings, the impressive quality and quantity of exchanges between the developers and providers of mass spectrometry equipment and software, expert users and the audience, were a key element for the success of these fruitful events and will have definitively paved the way for future round tables and challenging exercises at SPS meetings.
Animals, Databases, Factual, Mass Spectrometry/instrumentation, Mass Spectrometry/methods, Peptides/analysis, Proteomics, Software
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