Question: Sanity Checking Mixed Factorial Proteomics Analysis Workflow Using Limma
gravatar for JMallory
4 months ago by
JMallory0 wrote:

The present analysis is an exercise physiology study with a mixed factorial design. The design is as follows: Time (pre vs. post intervention; repeated measures) x Metformin status (on drug vs off drug; independent subjects) x dietary intervention (control diet vs MUFA enriched vs PUFA enriched; independent subjects). The data under investigation comes from a custom preoteomics aptamer array (104 individual subjects; two timepoints; 857 x 208 expression matrix). The primary contrast of interest is the first one (pre-post). I have set up the analysis using the attached code, but others on the research team find the initial results highly improbable.

I am unclear on how to interpret this and I want to give their concerns due diligence. Any advice would be appreciated. My primary concern is that some aspect of the following code is inappropriate for the stated application due to faulty implementation/violated assumptions.


#filter combined proteomics data to exclude MNAR probes where abundances are NA for more than 33.3% of samples       

#join additional metadata to samples

#set up objects for limma and normalize expression data with vsn 

# impute remaining NA assuming they are not MNAR 
edata<-impute.knn(abunds,k = 10, rowmax = 1.0, colmax = 1.0, maxp = 1500, rng.seed=362436069)$data

#set up model matrix for limma and estimate correlation of individual  subject samples across repeated measures 

#Fit linear model for within subjects contrast
cm <- makeContrasts(
    `PUFApost.Metform-PUFApre.Metform` = PUFApost.Metform-PUFApre.Metform,
    `NoDietpost.Metform-NoDietpre.Metform` = NoDietpost.Metform-NoDietpre.Metform,
    `MUFApost.Metform-MUFApre.Metform` = MUFApost.Metform-MUFApre.Metform,
    `PUFApost.NoMetform-PUFApre.NoMetform` = PUFApost.NoMetform-PUFApre.NoMetform,
    `NoDietpost.NoMetform-NoDietpre.NoMetform` = NoDietpost.NoMetform-NoDietpre.NoMetform,
    `MUFApost.NoMetform-MUFApre.NoMetform` = MUFApost.NoMetform-MUFApre.NoMetform,

#clean up DE table 
fit2 <-, cm)
fit2 <- eBayes(fit2,robust=TRUE)
limma • 138 views
ADD COMMENTlink modified 4 months ago by Gordon Smyth38k • written 4 months ago by JMallory0
Answer: Sanity Checking Mixed Factorial Proteomics Analysis Workflow Using Limma
gravatar for Aaron Lun
4 months ago by
Aaron Lun25k
Cambridge, United Kingdom
Aaron Lun25k wrote:

The limma part of this only starts at # set up model matrix for limma and .... Before that, there seem to be some proteomics-specific steps that I would not be qualified to answer. The data munging step is also a mystery to me as well, so I can only assume that you've done that part correctly.

Anyway, onto the limma part. It mostly looks fine, though there is surely a better way of setting levels(Treat). Note that calling topTable without coef will do an ANOVA-like analysis, testing all contrasts at once. This may not be what you want if you need DE results for each individual contrast.

You don't mention exactly why your colleagues find the results to be improbable. I would suggest (i) finding a handful of DE proteins that they're not liking, and (ii) looking back through the expression values to determine the step at which it became DE. You can do this by just plotting raw or transformed or imputed expression values - and if there is a clear difference even with the raw values, then there's really nothing more to be said. Well, unless you mixed up the protein names during pre-processing.

ADD COMMENTlink written 4 months ago by Aaron Lun25k

Concerning the part before limma.I don't know from which instrument your proteomics data came out. Usually, a log transform is needed. It's not clear if it's already applied. You should also check graphically the VSN and the impute steps by plotting the replicates (or the samples) before and after each processing.

ADD REPLYlink written 4 months ago by SamGG190
Answer: Sanity Checking Mixed Factorial Proteomics Analysis Workflow Using Limma
gravatar for Gordon Smyth
4 months ago by
Gordon Smyth38k
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne, Australia
Gordon Smyth38k wrote:

Well, you've made a number of non-trivial and debatable pre-processing steps. We don't know anything about your custom proteomics array, so we can't tell you whether your pre-processing is good or bad. Actually it would be hard to give definitive advice even if we did know your platform: pre-processing proteomics data for DE analyses is in general an unsolved problem because of the complex pattern of NAs.

I will say though that inputing imputing data to limma is never correct because it overstates the amount of data that you actually have and will over-state the significance of any results you obtain. There is no need to impute data because limma already handles missing values automatically (assuming they are MAR).

Also, limma doesn't need the data to be variance-stabilized (although it should be on the log-scale). It would be simpler and more robust to model the mean-variance relationship using trend=TRUE in eBayes rather than using VSN. I can understand why would you might impute data or variance-stabilize if you were inputing data to a clustering algorithm, say, but limma doesn't need so much pre-processing.

As Aaron has already remarked, it seems strange that you've formed a topTable for all the contrasts at once. If the first contrast is the one of interest, why haven't you tested for that contrast by itself?

ADD COMMENTlink modified 4 months ago • written 4 months ago by Gordon Smyth38k
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