Next-generation sequencing for genetic testing of familial colorectal cancer syndromes

Michele Simbolo, Andrea Mafficini, Marco Agostini, Corrado Pedrazzani, Chiara Bedin, Emanuele D. Urso, Donato Nitti, Giona Turri, Maria Scardoni, Matteo Fassan, Aldo Scarpa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Background: Genetic screening in families with high risk to develop colorectal cancer (CRC) prevents incurable disease and permits personalized therapeutic and follow-up strategies. The advancement of next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies has revolutionized the throughput of DNA sequencing. Methods: A series of 16 probands for either familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP; 8 cases) or hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC; 8 cases) were investigated for intragenic mutations in five CRC familial syndromes-associated genes (APC, MUTYH, MLH1, MSH2, MSH6) applying both a custom multigene Ion AmpliSeq NGS panel and conventional Sanger sequencing. Results: Fourteen pathogenic variants were detected in 13/16 FAP/HNPCC probands (81.3 %); one FAP proband presented two co-existing pathogenic variants, one in APC and one in MUTYH. Thirteen of these 14 pathogenic variants were detected by both NGS and Sanger, while one MSH2 mutation (L280FfsX3) was identified only by Sanger sequencing. This is due to a limitation of the NGS approach in resolving sequences close or within homopolymeric stretches of DNA. To evaluate the performance of our NGS custom panel we assessed its capability to resolve the DNA sequences corresponding to 2225 pathogenic variants reported in the COSMIC database for APC, MUTYH, MLH1, MSH2, MSH6. Our NGS custom panel resolves the sequences where 2108 (94.7 %) of these variants occur. The remaining 117 mutations reside inside or in close proximity to homopolymer stretches; of these 27 (1.2 %) are imprecisely identified by the software but can be resolved by visual inspection of the region, while the remaining 90 variants (4.0 %) are blind spots. In summary, our custom panel would miss 4 % (90/2225) of pathogenic variants that would need a small set of Sanger sequencing reactions to be solved. Conclusions: The multiplex NGS approach has the advantage of analyzing multiple genes in multiple samples simultaneously, requiring only a reduced number of Sanger sequences to resolve homopolymeric DNA regions not adequately assessed by NGS. The implementation of NGS approaches in routine diagnostics of familial CRC is cost-effective and significantly reduces diagnostic turnaround times.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number18
JournalHereditary Cancer in Clinical Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 21 2015


  • Colorectal adenocarcinoma
  • FAP
  • Next generation sequencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Genetics(clinical)


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