ChromAlign: A two-step algorithmic procedure for time alignment of three-dimensional LC-MS chromatographic surfaces

Rovshan G. Sadygov, Fernando Martin Maroto, Andreas F.R. Hühmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


We present an algorithmic approach to align three-dimensional chromatographic surfaces of LC-MS data of complex mixture samples. The approach consists of two steps. In the first step, we prealign chromatographic profiles: two-dimensional projections of chromatographic surfaces. This is accomplished by correlation analysis using fast Fourier transforms. In this step, a temporal offset that maximizes the overlap and dot product between two chromatographic profiles is determined. In the second step, the algorithm generates correlation matrix elements between full mass scans of the reference and sample chromatographic surfaces. The temporal offset from the first step indicates a range of the mass scans that are possibly correlated, then the correlation matrix is calculated only for these mass scans. The correlation matrix carries information on highly correlated scans, but it does not itself determine the scan or time alignment. Alignment is determined as a path in the correlation matrix that maximizes the sum of the correlation matrix elements. The computational complexity of the optimal path generation problem is reduced by the use of dynamic programming. The program produces time-aligned surfaces. The use of the temporal offset from the first step in the second step reduces the computation time for generating the correlation matrix and speeds up the process. The algorithm has been implemented in a program, ChromAlign, developed in C++ language for the .NET2 environment in WINDOWS XP. In this work, we demonstrate the applications of ChromAlign to alignment of LC-MS surfaces of several datasets: a mixture of known proteins, samples from digests of surface proteins of T-cells, and samples prepared from digests of cerebrospinal fluid. ChromAlign accurately aligns the LC-MS surfaces we studied. In these examples, we discuss various aspects of the alignment by ChromAlign, such as constant time axis shifts and warping of chromatographic surfaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8207-8217
Number of pages11
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 15 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry


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