Reliable Pan-Cancer Microsatellite Instability Assessment by Using Targeted Next-Generation Sequencing Data

JCO Precis Oncol. 2017:2017:PO.17.00084. doi: 10.1200/PO.17.00084. Epub 2017 Oct 3.


Purpose: Microsatellite instability (MSI)/mismatch repair (MMR) status is increasingly important in the management of patients with cancer to predict response to immune checkpoint inhibitors. We determined MSI status from large-panel clinical targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS) data across various solid cancer types.

Methods: The MSI statuses of 12,288 advanced solid cancers consecutively sequenced with Memorial Sloan Kettering-Integrated Mutation Profiling of Actionable Cancer Targets clinical NGS assay were inferred by using MSIsensor, a program that reports the percentage of unstable microsatellites as a score. Cutoff score determination and sensitivity/specificity were based on MSI polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and MMR immunohistochemistry.

Results: By using an MSIsensor score ≥ 10 to define MSI high (MSI-H), 83 (8%) of 996 colorectal cancers (CRCs) and 42 (16%) of 260 uterine endometrioid cancers (UECs) were MSI-H. Validation against MSI PCR and/or MMR immunohistochemistry performed for 138 (24 MSI-H, 114 microsatellite stable [MSS]) CRCs, and 40 (15 MSI-H, 25 MSS) UECs showed a concordance of 99.4%. MSIsensor also identified 68 MSI-H/MMR-deficient (MMR-D) non-CRC/UECs. Of 9,591 non-CRC/UEC tumors with MSS MSIsensor status, 456 (4.8%) had slightly elevated scores(≥3 and <10) of which 96.6% with available material were confirmed to be MSS by MSI PCR. MSI-H was also detected and confirmed in three non-CRC/UECs with low exonic mutation burden (< 20). MSIsensor correctly scored all 15 polymerase ε ultra-mutated cancers as negative for MSI.

Conclusion: MSI status can be reliably inferred by MSIsensor from large-panel targeted NGS data. Concurrent MSI testing by NGS is resource efficient, is potentially more sensitive for MMR-D than MSI PCR, and allows identification of MSI-H across various cancers not typically screened, as highlighted by the finding that 35% (68 of 193) of all MSI-H tumors were non-CRC/ UEC.