Cancer Cytopathol 2019 05 25;127(5):285-296. Epub 2019 Apr 25.
Department of Public Health, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy.
Background: Artificial genomic reference standards in a cytocentrifuge/cytospin format with well-annotated genomic data are useful for validating next-generation sequencing (NGS) on routine cytopreparations. Here, reference standards were optimized to be stained by different laboratories before DNA extraction and to contain a lower number of cells (2 × 10 ). This was done to better reflect the clinical challenge of working with insufficient cytological material.
Methods: A total of 17 worldwide laboratories analyzed customized reference standard slides (slides A-D). Each laboratory applied its standard workflow. The sample slides were engineered to harbor epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) c.2235_2249del15 p.E746_A750delELREA, EGFR c.2369C>T p.T790M, Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog (KRAS) c.38G>A p.G13D, and B-Raf proto-oncogene, serine/threonine kinase (BRAF) c.1798_1799GT>AA p.V600K mutations at various allele frequencies (AFs).
Results: EGFR and KRAS mutation detection showed excellent interlaboratory reproducibility, especially on slides A and B (10% and 5% AFs). On slide C (1% AF), either the EGFR mutation or the KRAS mutation was undetected by 10 of the 17 laboratories (58.82%). A reassessment of the raw data in a second-look analysis highlighted the mutations (n = 10) that had been missed in the first-look analysis. BRAF c.1798_1799GT>AA p.V600K showed a lower concordance rate for mutation detection and AF quantification.
Conclusions: The data show that the detection of low-abundance mutations is still clinically challenging and may require a visual inspection of sequencing reads to detect. Genomic reference standards in a cytocentrifuge/cytospin format are a valid tool for regular quality assessment of laboratories performing molecular studies on cytology with low-AF mutations.