A. Abbas, X.B. Kong, Z. Liu, B.Y. Jing, X. Gao
PLoS One, 8(1), e53112, (2013)
A common issue in bioinformatics is that computational methods often generate a large number of predictions sorted according to certain confidence scores. A key problem is then determining how many predictions must be selected to include most of the true predictions while maintaining reasonably high precision. In nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)-based protein structure determination, for instance, computational peak picking methods are becoming more and more common, although expert-knowledge remains the method of choice to determine how many peaks among thousands of candidate peaks should be taken into consideration to capture the true peaks. Here, we propose a Benjamini-Hochberg (B-H)-based approach that automatically selects the number of peaks. We formulate the peak selection problem as a multiple testing problem. Given a candidate peak list sorted by either volumes or intensities, we first convert the peaks into -values and then apply the B-H-based algorithm to automatically select the number of peaks. The proposed approach is tested on the state-of-the-art peak picking methods, including WaVPeak  and PICKY . Compared with the traditional fixed number-based approach, our approach returns significantly more true peaks. For instance, by combining WaVPeak or PICKY with the proposed method, the missing peak rates are on average reduced by 20% and 26%, respectively, in a benchmark set of 32 spectra extracted from eight proteins. The consensus of the B-H-selected peaks from both WaVPeak and PICKY achieves 88% recall and 83% precision, which significantly outperforms each individual method and the consensus method without using the B-H algorithm. The proposed method can be used as a standard procedure for any peak picking method and straightforwardly applied to some other prediction selection problems in bioinformatics.