Proteomics is the study of the proteome, and is critical to the understanding of cellular processes. Two central and related tasks of proteomics are protein identification and protein characterization. Many small laboratories are interested in the characterization of a small number of proteins, e.g., how posttranslational modifications change under different conditions.
We have developed a software tool called MassSorter for administrating and analyzing data from peptide mass fingerprinting experiments on proteins with known amino acid sequences. It is meant for small scale mass spectrometry laboratories that are interested in posttranslational modifications of known proteins. Several experiments can be compared simultaneously, and the matched and unmatched peak values are clearly indicated. The hits can be sorted according to m/z values (default) or according to the sequence of the protein. Filters defined by the user can mark autolytic protease peaks and other contaminating peaks (keratins, proteins co-migrating with the protein of interest, etc.). Unmatched peaks can be further analyzed for unexpected modifications by searches against a local version of the UniMod database. They can also be analyzed for unexpected cleavages, a highly useful feature for proteins that undergo maturation by proteolytic cleavage, creating new N- or C-terminals. Additional tools exist for visualization of the results, like sequence coverage, accuracy plots, different types of statistics, 3D models, etc. The program and a tutorial are freely available for academic users at http://www.bioinfo.no/software/massSorter.
MassSorter has a number of useful features that can promote the analysis and administration of MS-data.||