Mutation detection is increasingly used for the management of hematological malignancies. Prior whole transcriptome and whole exome sequencing studies using total RNA and DNA identified diverse mutation types in cancer-related genes associated with treatment failure in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia. Variants included single-nucleotide variants and small insertions/deletions, plus fusion transcripts and partial or whole gene deletions. The hypothesis that all of these mutation types could be detected by a single cost-effective hybridization capture next-generation sequencing method using total RNA was assessed. A method was developed that targeted 130 genes relevant for myeloid and lymphoid leukemia. Retrospective samples with 121 precharacterized variants were tested using total RNA and/or DNA. Concordance of detection of precharacterized variants using RNA or DNA was 96%, whereas the enhanced sensitivity identified additional variants. Comparison between 24 matched DNA and RNA samples demonstrated 95.3% of 170 variants detectable using DNA were detected using RNA, including all but one variant predicted to activate nonsense-mediated decay. RNA identified an additional 10 variants, including fusion transcripts. Furthermore, the true effect of splice variants on RNA splicing was only evident using RNA. In conclusion, capture sequencing using total RNA alone is suitable for detecting a range of variants relevant in chronic myeloid leukemia and may be more broadly applied to other hematological malignancies where diverse variant types define risk groups.
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