Peak lists derived from nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectra are commonly used as input data for a variety of computer assisted and automated analyses. These include automated protein resonance assignment and protein structure calculation software tools. Prior to these analyses, peak lists must be aligned to each other and sets of related peaks must be grouped based on common chemical shift dimensions. Even when programs can perform peak grouping, they require the user to provide uniform match tolerances or use default values. However, peak grouping is further complicated by multiple sources of variance in peak position limiting the effectiveness of grouping methods that utilize uniform match tolerances. In addition, no method currently exists for deriving peak positional variances from single peak lists for grouping peaks into spin systems, i.e. spin system grouping within a single peak list. Therefore, we developed a complementary pair of peak list registration analysis and spin system grouping algorithms designed to overcome these limitations. We have implemented these algorithms into an approach that can identify multiple dimension-specific positional variances that exist in a single peak list and group peaks from a single peak list into spin systems. The resulting software tools generate a variety of useful statistics on both a single peak list and pairwise peak list alignment, especially for quality assessment of peak list datasets. We used a range of low and high quality experimental solution NMR and solid-state NMR peak lists to assess performance of our registration analysis and grouping algorithms. Analyses show that an algorithm using a single iteration and uniform match tolerances approach is only able to recover from 50 to 80% of the spin systems due to the presence of multiple sources of variance. Our algorithm recovers additional spin systems by reevaluating match tolerances in multiple iterations. To facilitate evaluation of the algorithms, we developed a peak list simulator within our nmrstarlib package that generates user-defined assigned peak lists from a given BMRB entry or database of entries. In addition, over 100,000 simulated peak lists with one or two sources of variance were generated to evaluate the performance and robustness of these new registration analysis and peak grouping algorithms.

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Published in Journal of Biomolecular NMR, v. 68, issue 4, p. 281-296.

© The Author(s) 2017

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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Software and Results available at: http://software.cesb.uky.edu and figshare and github repositories: https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.4814605 (ssc software), https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.4816441 (ssc documentation), https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.4815163 (experimental peak lists), https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.5260660 (simulated peak lists), https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.4815160 (results of grouping algorithm), https://github.com/MoseleyBioinformaticsLab/nmrstarlib (nmrstarlib software).

The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10858-017-0126-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Supplementary Material 2