CANTRK: A Canadian Ring Study to Optimize Detection of NTRK Gene Fusions by Next-Generation RNA Sequencing

J Mol Diagn. 2023 Mar;25(3):168-174. doi: 10.1016/j.jmoldx.2022.12.004. Epub 2022 Dec 28.


The Canadian NTRK (CANTRK) study is an interlaboratory comparison ring study to optimize testing for neurotrophic receptor tyrosine kinase (NTRK) fusions in Canadian laboratories. Sixteen diagnostic laboratories used next-generation sequencing (NGS) for NTRK1, NTRK2, or NTRK3 fusions. Each laboratory received 12 formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tumor samples with unique NTRK fusions and two control non-NTRK fusion samples (one ALK and one ROS1). Laboratories used validated protocols for NGS fusion detection. Panels included Oncomine Comprehensive Assay v3, Oncomine Focus Assay, Oncomine Precision Assay, AmpliSeq for Illumina Focus, TruSight RNA Pan-Cancer Panel, FusionPlex Lung, and QIAseq Multimodal Lung. One sample was withdrawn from analysis because of sample quality issues. Of the remaining 13 samples, 6 of 11 NTRK fusions and both control fusions were detected by all laboratories. Two fusions, WNK2::NTRK2 and STRN3::NTRK2, were not detected by 10 laboratories using the Oncomine Comprehensive or Focus panels, due to absence of WNK2 and STRN3 in panel designs. Two fusions, TPM3::NTRK1 and LMNA::NTRK1, were challenging to detect on the AmpliSeq for Illumina Focus panel because of bioinformatics issues. One ETV6::NTRK3 fusion at low levels was not detected by two laboratories using the TruSight Pan-Cancer Panel. Panels detecting all fusions included FusionPlex Lung, Oncomine Precision, and QIAseq Multimodal Lung. The CANTRK study showed competency in detection of NTRK fusions by NGS across different panels in 16 Canadian laboratories and identified key test issues as targets for improvements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autoantigens
  • Calmodulin-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Canada
  • Gene Fusion
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Oncogene Proteins, Fusion / genetics
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Receptor, trkA* / analysis
  • Receptor, trkA* / genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA


  • Receptor, trkA
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Oncogene Proteins, Fusion
  • STRN3 protein, human
  • Autoantigens
  • Calmodulin-Binding Proteins
  • WNK2 protein, human
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases