Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is an important mediator of tumor cell survival and proliferation. The detection of EGFR mutations can predict prognoses and indicate when treatment with EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors should be used. As such, the development of highly sensitive methods for detecting EGFR mutations is important. Targeted next-generation sequencing is an effective method for diagnosing mutations. We compared the abilities of enrichment PCR followed by ultra-deep pyrosequencing (UDP), UDP alone, and PNA-mediated RT-PCR clamping to detect low-frequency EGFR mutations in tumor cell lines and tissue samples. Using enrichment PCR-UDP, we were able to detect the E19del and L858R mutations at minimum frequencies of 0.01% and 0.05%, respectively, in the PC-9 and H197 tumor cell lines. We also confirmed the sensitivity of detecting the E19del mutation by performing a titration analysis in FFPE tumor samples. The lowest mutation frequency detected was 0.0692% in tissue samples. EGFR mutations with frequencies as low as 0.01% were detected using enrichment PCR-UDP, suggesting that this method is a valuable tool for detecting rare mutations, especially in scarce tissue samples or those with small quantities of DNA.
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