Motivation: Changes in the copy number of chromosomal DNA segments [copy number variants (CNVs)] have been implicated in human variation, heritable diseases and cancers. Microarray-based platforms are the current established technology of choice for studies reporting these discoveries and constitute the benchmark against which emergent sequence-based approaches will be evaluated. Research that depends on CNV analysis is rapidly increasing, and systematic platform assessments that distinguish strengths and weaknesses are needed to guide informed choice.
Results: We evaluated the sensitivity and specificity of six platforms, provided by four leading vendors, using a spike-in experiment. NimbleGen and Agilent platforms outperformed Illumina and Affymetrix in accuracy and precision of copy number dosage estimates. However, Illumina and Affymetrix algorithms that leverage single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) information make up for this disadvantage and perform well at variant detection. Overall, the NimbleGen 2.1M platform outperformed others, but only with the use of an alternative data analysis pipeline to the one offered by the manufacturer.
Availability: The data is available from http://rafalab.jhsph.edu/cnvcomp/.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.