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A new peak detection algorithm for MALDI mass spectrometry data based on a modified Asymmetric Pseudo-Voigt model

Wijetunge, C.D, Saeed, I., Boughton, B.A.ORCID: 0000-0001-6342-9814, Roessner, U. and Halgamuge, S.K. (2015) A new peak detection algorithm for MALDI mass spectrometry data based on a modified Asymmetric Pseudo-Voigt model. BMC Genomics, 16 . Article number: S12.

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Mass Spectrometry (MS) is a ubiquitous analytical tool in biological research and is used to measure the mass-to-charge ratio of bio-molecules. Peak detection is the essential first step in MS data analysis. Precise estimation of peak parameters such as peak summit location and peak area are critical to identify underlying bio-molecules and to estimate their abundances accurately. We propose a new method to detect and quantify peaks in mass spectra. It uses dual-tree complex wavelet transformation along with Stein's unbiased risk estimator for spectra smoothing. Then, a new method, based on the modified Asymmetric Pseudo-Voigt (mAPV) model and hierarchical particle swarm optimization, is used for peak parameter estimation.

Using simulated data, we demonstrated the benefit of using the mAPV model over Gaussian, Lorentz and Bi-Gaussian functions for MS peak modelling. The proposed mAPV model achieved the best fitting accuracy for asymmetric peaks, with lower percentage errors in peak summit location estimation, which were 0.17% to 4.46% less than that of the other models. It also outperformed the other models in peak area estimation, delivering lower percentage errors, which were about 0.7% less than its closest competitor - the Bi-Gaussian model. In addition, using data generated from a MALDI-TOF computer model, we showed that the proposed overall algorithm outperformed the existing methods mainly in terms of sensitivity. It achieved a sensitivity of 85%, compared to 77% and 71% of the two benchmark algorithms, continuous wavelet transformation based method and Cromwell respectively.

The proposed algorithm is particularly useful for peak detection and parameter estimation in MS data with overlapping peak distributions and asymmetric peaks. The algorithm is implemented using MATLAB and the source code is freely available at

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: BMC
Copyright: © 2015 Wijetunge et al.
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