A commercial real-time PCR kit provides greater sensitivity than direct sequencing to detect KRAS mutations: a morphology-based approach in colorectal carcinoma

J Mol Diagn. 2010 May;12(3):292-9. doi: 10.2353/jmoldx.2010.090139. Epub 2010 Mar 4.


KRAS mutation testing has become a standard procedure in the management of patients with carcinomas. The most frequently used method for KRAS testing is direct sequencing of PCR products. The development of commercial real-time quantitative PCR kits offers a useful alternative since they are in theory much more sensitive than direct sequencing and they avoid post- PCR handling. We present our experience as a reference center for the study of KRAS mutations, comparing direct sequencing and the use of a commercial real-time quantitative PCR kit, as well as determining the sensitivity of both procedures in clinical practice. The TheraScreen K-RAS Mutation Kit identified mutations in 75 (44%) of the 170 tumors. Three cases were tested positive using TheraScreen K-RAS Mutation Kit and negative by direct sequencing. We then compared the sensitivity of the kit and that of direct sequencing using 74 mutant tumors. The kit was able to detect the presence of a mutation in a 1% dilution of the total DNA in 13.5% of the tumors and, in 84%, KRAS mutation was identified at a dilution of 5%. Sequencing was able to detect KRAS mutations when the mutant DNA represented 10% of the total DNA in 20/74 (27%) of the tumors. When the mutant DNA represented 30% of the total DNA, sequencing could detect mutations in 56/74 (76%).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / methods*
  • ras Proteins / genetics*


  • KRAS protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • ras Proteins