A clinically validated diagnostic second-generation sequencing assay for detection of hereditary BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations

J Mol Diagn. 2013 Nov;15(6):796-809. doi: 10.1016/j.jmoldx.2013.07.004. Epub 2013 Oct 4.


Individuals who inherit mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 are predisposed to breast and ovarian cancers. However, identifying mutations in these large genes by conventional dideoxy sequencing in a clinical testing laboratory is both time consuming and costly, and similar challenges exist for other large genes, or sets of genes, with relevance in the clinical setting. Second-generation sequencing technologies have the potential to improve the efficiency and throughput of clinical diagnostic sequencing, once clinically validated methods become available. We have developed a method for detection of variants based on automated small-amplicon PCR followed by sample pooling and sequencing with a second-generation instrument. To demonstrate the suitability of this method for clinical diagnostic sequencing, we analyzed the coding exons and the intron-exon boundaries of BRCA1 and BRCA2 in 91 hereditary breast cancer patient samples. Our method generated high-quality sequence coverage across all targeted regions, with median coverage greater than 4000-fold for each sample in pools of 24. Sensitive and specific automated variant detection, without false-positive or false-negative results, was accomplished with a standard software pipeline using bwa for sequence alignment and samtools for variant detection. We experimentally derived a minimum threshold of 100-fold sequence depth for confident variant detection. The results demonstrate that this method is suitable for sensitive, automatable, high-throughput sequence variant detection in the clinical laboratory.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Mutational Analysis / methods*
  • Gene Frequency
  • Gene Library
  • Genes, BRCA1*
  • Genes, BRCA2*
  • Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome / genetics*
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity