Label-free shotgun proteomics is routinely used to assess proteomes. However, extracting relevant information from the massive amounts of generated data remains difficult. This tutorial provides a strong foundation on analysis of quantitative proteomics data. We provide key statistical concepts that help researchers to design proteomics experiments and we showcase how to analyze quantitative proteomics data using our recent free and open-source R package MSqRob, which was developed to implement the peptide-level robust ridge regression method for relative protein quantification described by Goeminne et al. MSqRob can handle virtually any experimental proteomics design and outputs proteins ordered by statistical significance. Moreover, its graphical user interface and interactive diagnostic plots provide easy inspection and also detection of anomalies in the data and flaws in the data analysis, allowing deeper assessment of the validity of results and a critical review of the experimental design. Our tutorial discusses interactive preprocessing, data analysis and visualization of label-free MS-based quantitative proteomics experiments with simple and more complex designs. We provide well-documented scripts to run analyses in bash mode on GitHub, enabling the integration of MSqRob in automated pipelines on cluster environments (https://github.com/statOmics/MSqRob).
The concepts outlined in this tutorial aid in designing better experiments and analyzing the resulting data more appropriately. The two case studies using the MSqRob graphical user interface will contribute to a wider adaptation of advanced peptide-based models, resulting in higher quality data analysis workflows and more reproducible results in the proteomics community. We also provide well-documented scripts for experienced users that aim at automating MSqRob on cluster environments.
Goeminne, L. J., Gevaert, K., & Clement, L. (2018). Experimental design and data-analysis in label-free quantitative LC/MS proteomics: A tutorial with MSqRob. Journal of proteomics, 171, 23-36.