Articles
BRCA1, BRCA2 and PALB2 mutations and CHEK2 c.1100delC in different South African ethnic groups diagnosed with premenopausal and/or triple negative breast cancer

Current knowledge of the aetiology of hereditary breast cancer in the four main South African population groups (black, coloured, Indian and white) is limited. Risk assessments in the black, coloured and Indian population groups are challenging because of restricted information regarding the underlying genetic contributions to inherited breast cancer in these populations. We focused this study on premenopausal patients (diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 50; n = 78) and triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) patients (n = 30) from the four South African ethnic groups. The aim of this study was to determine the frequency and spectrum of germline mutations in BRCA1, BRCA2 and PALB2 and to evaluate the presence of the CHEK2 c.1100delC allele in these patients.

BMC Cancer (2016)

Targeted resequencing and variant validation using pxlence PCR assays

The advent of next-generation sequencing technologies has had a profound impact on molecular diagnostics. PCR is a popular method for target enrichment of disease gene panels. Its flexibility vastly exceeds hybridization-based approaches. Using our proprietary primer-design pipeline, primerXL, we have created almost one million assays covering over 98% of the human exome. Here we describe the assay specification and both in silico and wet-lab validation of a selected set of 2294 assays. Using a single PCR protocol and no optimization, these assays result in high coverage uniformity and limited aspecific coverage. In addition, data indicates a correlation between the predictive specificity score and the amount of assay aspecific coverage.

Biomolecular Detection and Quantification (2016)

Flexible, scalable, and efficient targeted resequencing on a benchtop sequencer for variant detection in clinical practice

The release of benchtop next-generation sequencing (NGS) instruments has paved the way to implement the technology in clinical setting. The need for flexible, qualitative, and cost-efficient workflows is high. We used singleplex-PCR for highly efficient target enrichment, allowing us to reach the quality standards set in Sanger sequencing-based diagnostics. For the library preparation, a modified Nextera XT protocol was used, followed by sequencing on a MiSeq instrument. With an innovative pooling strategy, high flexibility, scalability, and cost-efficiency were obtained, independent of the availability of commercial kits. The approach was validated for 250 genes associated with monogenic disorders. An overall sensitivity (>99%) similar to Sanger sequencing was observed in combination with a positive predictive value of >98%. The distribution of coverage was highly uniform, guaranteeing a minimal number of gaps to be filled with alternative methods.

Human mutation (2015)

Target enrichment using parallel nanoliter quantitative PCR amplification

We used the WaferGen Smartchip platform to perform highly parallelized PCR based target enrichment for a set of known cancer genes in a well characterized set of cancer cell lines from the NCI60 panel. Optimization of PCR assay design and cycling conditions resulted in a high enrichment efficiency. We provide proof of a high mutation rediscovery rate and have included technical replicates to enable SNP calling validation demonstrating the high reproducibility of our enrichment platform.

BMC Genomics (2014)

Massively parallel sequencing for early molecular diagnosis in Leber congenital amaurosis

Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) is a rare congenital retinal dystrophy associated with 16 genes. Recent breakthroughs in LCA gene therapy offer the first prospect of treating inherited blindness, which requires an unequivocal and early molecular diagnosis. While present genetic tests do not address this due to a tremendous genetic heterogeneity, massively parallel sequencing (MPS) strategies might bring a solution. Here, we developed a comprehensive molecular test for LCA based on targeted MPS of all exons of 16 known LCA genes.

Genetics in Medicine (2012)

Molecular diagnostics for congenital hearing loss including 15 deafness genes using a next generation sequencing platform

In this proof of concept study, we screened 15 autosomal recessive deafness genes in 5 patients with congenital genetic deafness. 646 specific primer pairs for all exons and most of the UTR of the 15 selected genes were designed using primerXL. Using patient specific identifiers, all amplicons were pooled and analyzed using the Roche 454 NGS technology. Three of these patients are members of families in which a region of interest has previously been characterized by linkage studies. In these, we were able to identify two new mutations in CDH23 and OTOF. For another patient, the etiology of deafness was unclear, and no causal mutation was found. In a fifth patient, included as a positive control, we could confirm a known mutation in TMC1.

BMC Medical Genomics (2012)