TargetSearch - a Bioconductor package for the efficient preprocessing of GC-MS metabolite profiling data. Background: Metabolite profiling, the simultaneous quantification of multiple metabolites in an experiment, is becoming increasingly popular, particularly with the rise of systems-level biology. The workhorse in this field is gas-chromatography hyphenated with mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The high-throughput of this technology coupled with a demand for large experiments has led to data pre-processing, i.e. the quantification of metabolites across samples, becoming a major bottleneck. Existing software has several limitations, including restricted maximum sample size, systematic errors and low flexibility. However, the biggest limitation is that the resulting data usually require extensive hand-curation, which is subjective and can typically take several days to weeks. Results: We introduce the TargetSearch package, an open source tool which is a flexible and accurate method for pre-processing even very large numbers of GC-MS samples within hours. We developed a novel strategy to iteratively correct and update retention time indices for searching and identifying metabolites. The package is written in the R programming language with computationally intensive functions written in C for speed and performance. The package includes a graphical user interface to allow easy use by those unfamiliar with R. Conclusions: TargetSearch allows fast and accurate data pre-processing for GC-MS experiments and overcomes the sample number limitations and manual curation requirements of existing software. We validate our method by carrying out an analysis against both a set of known chemical standard mixtures and of a biological experiment. In addition we demonstrate its capabilities and speed by comparing it with other GC-MS pre-processing tools. We believe this package will greatly ease current bottlenecks and facilitate the analysis of metabolic profiling data.

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References in zbMATH (referenced in 2 articles )

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  1. Laurent Gatto, Andy Christoforou: Using R and Bioconductor for proteomics data analysis (2013) arXiv
  2. Cuadros-Inostroza, Álvaro; Caldana, Camila; Redestig, Henning; Kusano, Miyako; Lisec, Jan; Peña-Cortés, Hugo; Willmitzer, Lothar; Hannah, Matthew A.: Targetsearch - a bioconductor package for the efficient preprocessing of GC-MS metabolite profiling data (2009) ioport