Context: Whole-genome sequencing is becoming increasingly available for research purposes, but it has not yet been routinely used for clinical diagnosis.
Objective: To determine whether whole-genome sequencing can identify cryptic, actionable mutations in a clinically relevant time frame.
Design, setting, and patient: We were referred a difficult diagnostic case of acute promyelocytic leukemia with no pathogenic X-RARA fusion identified by routine metaphase cytogenetics or interphase fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). The case patient was enrolled in an institutional review board-approved protocol, with consent specifically tailored to the implications of whole-genome sequencing. The protocol uses a "movable firewall" that maintains patient anonymity within the entire research team but allows the research team to communicate medically relevant information to the treating physician.
Main outcome measures: Clinical relevance of whole-genome sequencing and time to communicate validated results to the treating physician.
Results: Massively parallel paired-end sequencing allowed identification of a cytogenetically cryptic event: a 77-kilobase segment from chromosome 15 was inserted en bloc into the second intron of the RARA gene on chromosome 17, resulting in a classic bcr3 PML-RARA fusion gene. Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction sequencing subsequently validated the expression of the fusion transcript. Novel FISH probes identified 2 additional cases of t(15;17)-negative acute promyelocytic leukemia that had cytogenetically invisible insertions. Whole-genome sequencing and validation were completed in 7 weeks and changed the treatment plan for the patient.
Conclusion: Whole-genome sequencing can identify cytogenetically invisible oncogenes in a clinically relevant time frame.