Austin P. So, Anna Vilborg, Yosr Bouhlal, Ryan T. Koehler, Susan M. Grimes, Yannick Pouliot, Daniel Mendoza, Janet Ziegle, Jason Stein, Federico Goodsaid, Michael Y. Lucero, Francisco M. De La Vega, and Hanlee P. Ji

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Next-generation deep sequencing of gene panels is being adopted as a diagnostic test to identify actionable mutations in cancer patient samples. However, clinical samples, such as formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded specimens, frequently provide low quantities of degraded, poor quality DNA. To overcome these issues, many sequencing assays rely on extensive PCR amplification leading to an accumulation of bias and artifacts. Thus, there is a need for a targeted sequencing assay that performs well with DNA of low quality and quantity without relying on extensive PCR amplification.

We evaluate the performance of a targeted sequencing assay based on Oligonucleotide Selective Sequencing, which permits the enrichment of genes and regions of interest and the identification of sequence variants from low amounts of damaged DNA. This assay utilizes a repair process adapted to clinical FFPE samples, followed by adaptor ligation to single stranded DNA and a primer-based capture technique.

Our approach generates sequence libraries of high fidelity with reduced reliance on extensive PCR amplification—this facilitates the accurate assessment of copy number alterations in addition to delivering accurate single nucleotide variant and insertion/deletion detection. We apply this method to capture and sequence the exons of a panel of 130 cancer-related genes, from which we obtain high read coverage uniformity across the targeted regions at starting input DNA amounts as low as 10 ng per sample. We demonstrate the performance using a series of reference DNA samples, and by identifying sequence variants in DNA from matched clinical samples originating from different tissue types.

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