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What is this

GPFinder 3 is a python script that implements an algorithm to assign glycopeptide identities (peptide structure + glycan composition) by their fragmentation mass spectra.

Who made this

This software was written by Evan A. Parker and Michael Xin Sun. GP Finder 3 is based on GP Finder 2, GP Finder, and Glyco-X. See the following publications on these topics:

An HJ, Tillinghast JS, Woodruff DL, Rocke DM, Lebrilla CB (2006) A new computer program (GlycoX) to determine simultaneously the glycosylation sites and oligosaccharide heterogeneity of glycoproteins. Journal of proteome research 5 (10):2800-2808. 

Nwosu CC, Strum JS, An HJ, Lebrilla CB (2010) Enhanced detection and identification of glycopeptides in negative ion mode mass spectrometry. Analytical chemistry 82 (23):9654-9662.

Nwosu CC, Seipert RR, Strum JS, Hua SS, An HJ, Zivkovic AM, German BJ, Lebrilla CB (2011) Simultaneous and extensive site-specific N- and O-glycosylation analysis in protein mixtures. Journal of proteome research 10 (5):2612-2624. 

Strum JS, Nwosu CC, Hua S, Kronewitter SR, Seipert RR, Bachelor RJ, An HJ, Lebrilla CB (2013) Automated assignments of N- and O-site specific glycosylation with extensive glycan heterogeneity of glycoprotein mixtures. Analytical chemistry 85 (12):5666-5675.

Kailemia MJ, Ruhaak LR, Lebrilla CB, Amster IJ (2014) Oligosaccharide analysis by mass spectrometry: a review of recent developments. Analytical chemistry 86 (1):196-212. 

Project Scope

While candidate glycopeptides can be found with a single tandem mass spectrum, statistical significance of assignments as stated by a false discovery rate can be determined using decoy analysis. As implemented in GPF3, decoy analysis requires input from many spectra taken in a single session, thus, in order to use decoy analysis, GPF3 requires data be provided as with mass-chromatograms. Other tools exist to work with single tandem spectra, I recommend glycopep grader made by Carrie Woodin of the Desaire lab ( ).

Setting up an environment for GPF3

Prior to using GPF3 install all dependencies and their subdependencies.

GP3 depends on Python 2.7, Numpy, and MatPlotLib.

Experienced Python users may be familiar with the process of installing these dependnecies but for others, I recommend using a scientific python distribution like Enthought Python Distribution. Others exist that include these libraries. Importantly, GPF3 does not yet work with python 3.

GPF 3 quickstart

GP Finder 3 is currently best described as a script, rather than a full fledged python library. As such, it is used by using git to clone this repository then copying analysis files into the resources directory.

~$ git clone
~$ cd gpfinder
 $ cp ~/mydata.mgf ./resources/mydata.mgf
 $ cp ~/protein_uniprot_record.xml ./resources/myprotein.xml

Now that your data accessable to gpfinder, open the config.xml, edit line proteinfile to contain the name of your protein library and edit the line massspecfile to point to your mgf data file. Now run the analysis.

 $ python

Once complete, the results will be output in the various CSV files described later.

Sample preparation & acquisition

GPF3 has been tested on glycopeptides derived from tryptic digestion, pronase digestion, and elastase digestion. Several other proteases are suported as well as combinations of proteases. New proteases can be added by copying an existing protease specificity function and implementing logic to cover behavior of the desired protease. A detailed guide on sample preparation is out of the scope of this guide, but many resources exist in literature that cover glycopeptide production and purification.

Preparation of spectra

Once glycopeptide spectra have been collected and uploaded into a spectral viewer, the desired spectra should be exported as a MGF or mzXML file. NO filtering should be performed before-hand; for the best results use GPF3’s builtin filtering based on kernel density estimation of the noise level within a spectra.

Once the spectra has been exported, move a copy to the GPF3 resources folder where it can be used for a search.

Configuration of GPF3

GPF3 is configured with the file “GPF3Config.xml”. This file should be in the root directory of the analysis (along side the “”). Each configuration option is verbose and for ambigous portions, helper text has been included as a comment. A future guide will cover this file in depth but currently rely on the commented configuration file. Currently, the most important configuration options are described here.

In addition to the configuration file, search resources are kept in the “resources” folder.

  • Protein files supplied as uniprot XML files
  • Glycan libraries are a simple CSV based format containing compositions
File resources:

GPF3 imports many resources for the aptly named directory resources. The spectra to be analyzed should reside there along with uniprot xml files describing the protein and a glycan library. If no protein xml file exists, a sequence can be added maually later.

The glycan library is a CSV containing rows describing the composition of all included glycans. This library should reflect a targeted superset of the expected glycoforms. A general purpose library is included with over 300 structures found in mamalian cells. Finally, GPF3 can be run without a glycan library using the combinatorial glycan option. This is useful for exploratory searches but we recommend the use of a library.

Tags descriptive of MS1

After file tags, there are several tags used to describe the input spectra to GPF3 at the MS1 level. Parts per million tollerance, maximum expected charge (use 0 for pre-deconvoluted data), and the noise threshold for significant data are all included here.

The tag diagnosticfragmentfilter is used to instruct GPF3 on the pre- selection of data. Since kernel density estimation (the noise detection algorithm) is slow, all spectra are pre-filtered for diagnostic oxonium ions and neutral losses. Each spectra needs to include the specified count of oxonium ions that sum to the specified fraction of the base peak.

Protein tag group

The next group of tags is bound by the protein tag. In this group the digestion enzyme is specified and

Running gpfinder and output

Use your python interpreter to run the script Doing this in an interactive shell will allow you to more easily detect errors. Most configuration and file format errors should stop the run immediately.

During the run, three graphs will be rendered and once the run is completed, two csv files will be created that contain the results.

CSV_1 contains the unfiltered candidate list for all ions with glycopeptide candidates.

CSV_3 contains the results for each feature with a compound passing the false discovery rate threshold of 5%.