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We describe a useful workflow for characterizing proteomics experiments incorporating many conditions and abundance data using the popular weighted gene correlation network analysis (WGCNA) approach and functional annotation with the PloGO2 R package, the latter of which we have extended and made available to Bioconductor. The approach can use quantitative data from labeled or label-free experiments and was developed to handle multiple files stemming from data partition or multiple pairwise comparisons. The WGCNA approach can similarly produce a potentially large number of clusters of interest, which can also be functionally characterized using PloGO2. Enrichment analysis will identify clusters or subsets of proteins of interest, and the WGCNA network topology scores will produce a ranking of proteins within these clusters or subsets. This can naturally lead to prioritized proteins to be considered for further analysis or as candidates of interest for validation in the context of complex experiments. We demonstrate the use of the package on two published data sets using two different biological systems (plant and human plasma) and proteomics platforms (sequential window acquisition of all theoretical fragment-ion spectra (SWATH) and tandem mass tag (TMT)): an analysis of the effect of drought on rice over time generated using TMT and a pediatric plasma sample data set generated using SWATH. In both, the automated workflow recapitulates key insights or observations of the published papers and provides additional suggestions for further investigation. These findings indicate that the data set analysis using WGCNA combined with the updated PloGO2 package is a powerful method to gain biological insights from complex multifaceted proteomics experiments.
- functional enrichment analysis
- gene ontology
- bioinformatics workflow
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