Discrepancies in cancer genomic sequencing highlight opportunities for driver mutation discovery

Cancer Res. 2014 Nov 15;74(22):6390-6396. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-14-1020. Epub 2014 Sep 25.


Cancer genome sequencing is being used at an increasing rate to identify actionable driver mutations that can inform therapeutic intervention strategies. A comparison of two of the most prominent cancer genome sequencing databases from different institutes (Cancer Cell Line Encyclopedia and Catalogue of Somatic Mutations in Cancer) revealed marked discrepancies in the detection of missense mutations in identical cell lines (57.38% conformity). The main reason for this discrepancy is inadequate sequencing of GC-rich areas of the exome. We have therefore mapped over 400 regions of consistent inadequate sequencing (cold-spots) in known cancer-causing genes and kinases, in 368 of which neither institute finds mutations. We demonstrate, using a newly identified PAK4 mutation as proof of principle, that specific targeting and sequencing of these GC-rich cold-spot regions can lead to the identification of novel driver mutations in known tumor suppressors and oncogenes. We highlight that cross-referencing between genomic databases is required to comprehensively assess genomic alterations in commonly used cell lines and that there are still significant opportunities to identify novel drivers of tumorigenesis in poorly sequenced areas of the exome. Finally, we assess other reasons for the observed discrepancy, such as variations in dbSNP filtering and the acquisition/loss of mutations, to give explanations as to why there is a discrepancy in pharmacogenomic studies, given recent concerns with poor reproducibility of data.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Exome
  • Genes, Tumor Suppressor
  • Humans
  • Mutation*
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Oncogenes
  • Pharmacogenetics
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA*
  • p21-Activated Kinases / genetics


  • PAK4 protein, human
  • p21-Activated Kinases