A comparison of three methods for detecting KRAS mutations in formalin-fixed colorectal cancer specimens

Br J Cancer. 2012 Jul 10;107(2):345-51. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2012.259. Epub 2012 Jun 19.


Background: KRAS mutation testing is required to select patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (CRC) to receive anti-epidermal growth factor receptor antibodies, but the optimal KRAS mutation test method is uncertain.

Methods: We conducted a two-site comparison of two commercial KRAS mutation kits - the cobas KRAS Mutation Test and the Qiagen therascreen KRAS Kit - and Sanger sequencing. A panel of 120 CRC specimens was tested with all three methods. The agreement between the cobas test and each of the other methods was assessed. Specimens with discordant results were subjected to quantitative massively parallel pyrosequencing (MPP). DNA blends were tested to determine detection rates at 5% mutant alleles.

Results: Reproducibility of the cobas test between sites was 98%. Six mutations were detected by cobas that were not detected by Sanger, and five were confirmed by MPP. The cobas test detected eight mutations which were not detected by the therascreen test, and seven were confirmed by MPP. Detection rates with 5% mutant DNA blends were 100% for the cobas and therascreen tests and 19% for Sanger.

Conclusion: The cobas test was reproducible between sites, and detected several mutations that were not detected by the therascreen test or Sanger. Sanger sequencing had poor sensitivity for low levels of mutation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Formaldehyde
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Tissue Fixation
  • ras Proteins / genetics*


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