Correct phenotypic interpretation of variants of unknown significance for cancer-associated genes is a diagnostic challenge as genetic screenings gain in popularity in the next-generation sequencing era. The Critical Assessment of Genome Interpretation (CAGI) experiment aims to test and define the state of the art of genotype-phenotype interpretation. Here, we present the assessment of the CAGI p16INK4a challenge. Participants were asked to predict the effect on cellular proliferation of 10 variants for the p16INK4a tumor suppressor, a cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor encoded by the CDKN2A gene. Twenty-two pathogenicity predictors were assessed with a variety of accuracy measures for reliability in a medical context. Different assessment measures were combined in an overall ranking to provide more robust results. The R scripts used for assessment are publicly available from a GitHub repository for future use in similar assessment exercises. Despite a limited test-set size, our findings show a variety of results, with some methods performing significantly better. Methods combining different strategies frequently outperform simpler approaches. The best predictor, Yang&Zhou lab, uses a machine learning method combining an empirical energy function measuring protein stability with an evolutionary conservation term. The p16INK4a challenge highlights how subtle structural effects can neutralize otherwise deleterious variants.
Keywords: CAGI experiment; bioinformatics tools; cancer; pathogenicity predictors; variant interpretation.
© 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.