Author(s): Monsinjon T, Andersen OK, Leboulenger F, Knigge T
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Proteomics may help to detect subtle pollution-related changes, such as responses to mixture pollution at low concentrations, where clear signs of toxicity are absent. The challenges associated with the analysis of large-scale multivariate proteomic datasets have been widely discussed in medical research and biomarker discovery. This concept has been introduced to ecotoxicology only recently, so data processing and classification analysis need to be refined before they can be readily applied in biomarker discovery and monitoring studies. RESULTS: Data sets obtained from a case study of oil pollution in the Blue mussel were investigated for differential protein expression by retentate chromatography-mass spectrometry and decision tree classification. Different tissues and different settings were used to evaluate classifiers towards their discriminatory power. It was found that, due the intrinsic variability of the data sets, reliable classification of unknown samples could only be achieved on a broad statistical basis (n > 60) with the observed expression changes comprising high statistical significance and sufficient amplitude. The application of stringent criteria to guard against overfitting of the models eventually allowed satisfactory classification for only one of the investigated data sets and settings. CONCLUSION: Machine learning techniques provide a promising approach to process and extract informative expression signatures from high-dimensional mass-spectrometry data. Even though characterisation of the proteins forming the expression signatures would be ideal, knowledge of the specific proteins is not mandatory for effective class discrimination. This may constitute a new biomarker approach in ecotoxicology, where working with organisms, which do not have sequenced genomes render protein identification by database searching problematic. However, data processing has to be critically evaluated and statistical constraints have to be considered before supervised classification algorithms are employed.
This article was published in Proteome Sci
and referenced in Journal of Proteomics & Bioinformatics