DNA pooling in mutation detection with reference to sequence analysis

Am J Hum Genet. 2000 May;66(5):1689-92. doi: 10.1086/302894. Epub 1999 Mar 24.


We discuss pooling methods of mutation detection for identifying rare mutations. We provide mathematical formulae for obtaining the optimal pool size as a function of the mutation frequency in the study population and the specificity of the test. The optimal pool size depends strongly on the specificity of the test. With a test that has 99% specificity, pooling can reduce the number of tests that need to be performed by 80%, whereas, with a test with 95% specificity, pooling reduces the number of samples that must be tested by only 50%. We used the software PHRED to call mutations after sequencing of pooled samples with known STK11 mutations. We found that, when the area under the curve for the less prominent peak was used to call mutations, we were able to pool pairs of samples and correctly identify mutations. Pooling of three samples did not lead to an adequately specific test for the basic automated allele-calling procedures that we used. We discuss methods by which the specificity may be improved to permit pooling of three or more samples when testing for mutations by sequencing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Automation
  • DNA / genetics*
  • DNA Mutational Analysis / methods*
  • False Negative Reactions
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Gene Frequency / genetics
  • Humans
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • Sample Size
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Software
  • Specimen Handling


  • DNA
  • STK11 protein, human
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases