Evaluation of commercial DNA and RNA extraction methods for high-throughput sequencing of FFPE samples

PLoS One. 2018 May 17;13(5):e0197456. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0197456. eCollection 2018.


Nucleic acid material of adequate quality is crucial for successful high-throughput sequencing (HTS) analysis. DNA and RNA isolated from archival FFPE material are frequently degraded and not readily amplifiable due to chemical damage introduced during fixation. To identify optimal nucleic acid extraction kits, DNA and RNA quantity, quality and performance in HTS applications were evaluated. DNA and RNA were isolated from five sarcoma archival FFPE blocks, using eight extraction protocols from seven kits from three different commercial vendors. For DNA extraction, the truXTRAC FFPE DNA kit from Covaris gave higher yields and better amplifiable DNA, but all protocols gave comparable HTS library yields using Agilent SureSelect XT and performed well in downstream variant calling. For RNA extraction, all protocols gave comparable yields and amplifiable RNA. However, for fusion gene detection using the Archer FusionPlex Sarcoma Assay, the truXTRAC FFPE RNA kit from Covaris and Agencourt FormaPure kit from Beckman Coulter showed the highest percentage of unique read-pairs, providing higher complexity of HTS data and more frequent detection of recurrent fusion genes. truXTRAC simultaneous DNA and RNA extraction gave similar outputs as individual protocols. These findings show that although successful HTS libraries could be generated in most cases, the different protocols gave variable quantity and quality for FFPE nucleic acid extraction. Selecting the optimal procedure is highly valuable and may generate results in borderline quality specimens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA / isolation & purification*
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing / methods*
  • Humans
  • Paraffin Embedding*
  • RNA / isolation & purification*


  • RNA
  • DNA

Grant support

This project was supported by grants from the Norwegian Cancer Society (PR-2007-0163) to Leonardo A. Meza-Zepeda, Norges Forskningsråd (221580) to Ola Myklebost and the Gene Therapy program at Oslo University Hospital to Leonardo A. Meza-Zepeda. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.