Reliability of Whole-Exome Sequencing for Assessing Intratumor Genetic Heterogeneity
52 Pages Posted: 9 Apr 2018 Sneak Peek Status: PublishedMore...
Multi-region sequencing is used to detect intratumor genetic heterogeneity (ITGH) in tumors. To assess whether genuine ITGH can be distinguished from sequencing artifacts, we whole-exome sequenced (WES) three anatomically distinct regions of the same tumor with technical replicates to estimate technical noise. Somatic variants were detected with three different WES pipelines and subsequently validated by high-depth amplicon sequencing. The cancer-only pipeline was unreliable, with about 69% of the identified somatic variants being false positive. Even with matched normal DNA where 82% of the somatic variants were detected reliably, only 36%-78% were found consistently in technical replicate pairs. Overall 34%-80% of the discordant somatic variants, which could be interpreted as ITGH, were found to constitute technical noise. Excluding mutations affecting low mappability regions or occurring in certain mutational contexts was found to reduce artifacts, yet detection of subclonal mutations by WES in the absence of orthogonal validation remains unreliable.
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