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This article is part of the supplement: 22nd International Conference on Genome Informatics: Bioinformatics

Open Access Proceedings

Identification of ubiquitin/ubiquitin-like protein modification from tandem mass spectra with various PTMs

Chiyong Kang and Gwan-Su Yi*

Author Affiliations

Department of Bio and Brain Engineering, KAIST, Daejeon 305-701, South Korea

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BMC Bioinformatics 2011, 12(Suppl 14):S8  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-12-S14-S8

Published: 14 December 2011



Various solutions have been introduced for the identification of post-translational modification (PTM) from tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) in proteomics field but the identification of peptide modifiers, such as Ubiquitin (Ub) and ubiquitin-like proteins (Ubls), is still a challenge. The fragmentation of peptide modifier produce complex shifted ion mass patterns in combination with other PTMs, which makes it difficult to identify and locate the PTMs on a protein sequence. Currently, most PTM identification methods do not consider the complex fragmentation of peptide modifier or deals it separately from the other PTMs.


We developed an advanced PTM identification method that inspects possible ion patterns of the most known peptide modifiers as well as other known biological and chemical PTMs to make more comprehensive and accurate conclusion. The proposed method searches all detectable mass differences of measured peaks from their theoretical values and the mass differences within mass tolerance range are grouped as mass shift classes. The most possible locations of multiple PTMs including peptide modifiers can be determined by evaluating all possible scenarios generated by the combination of the qualified mass shift classes.The proposed method showed excellent performance in the test with simulated spectra having various PTMs including peptide modifiers and in the comparison with recently developed methods such as QuickMod and SUMmOn. In the analysis of HUPO Brain Proteome Project (BPP) datasets, the proposed method could find the ubiquitin modification sites that were not identified by other conventional methods.


This work presents a novel method for identifying bothpeptide modifiers that generate complex fragmentation patternsand PTMs that are not fragmented during fragmentation processfrom tandem mass spectra.