Quantitative PCR High-Resolution Melting (qPCR-HRM) Curve Analysis, a New Approach to Simultaneously Screen Point Mutations and Large Rearrangements: Application toMLH1Germline Mutations in Lynch Syndrome

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Several techniques have been developed to screen mismatch repair (MMR) genes for deleterious mutations. Until now, two different techniques were required to screen for both point mutations and large rearrangements. For the first time, we propose a new approach, called “quantitative PCR (qPCR) high-resolution melting (HRM) curve analysis (qPCR-HRM),” which combines qPCR and HRM to obtain a rapid and cost-effective method suitable for testing a large series of samples. We designed PCR amplicons to scan the MLH1 gene using qPCR HRM. Seventy-six patients were fully scanned in replicate, including 14 wild-type patients and 62 patients with known mutations (57 point mutations and five rearrangements). To validate the detected mutations, we used sequencing and/or hybridization on a dedicated MLH1 array-comparative genomic hybridization (array-CGH). All point mutations and rearrangements detected by denaturing high-performance liquid chromatography (dHPLC)+multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) were successfully detected by qPCR HRM. Three large rearrangements were characterized with the dedicated MLH1 array-CGH. One variant was detected with qPCR HRM in a wild-type patient and was located within the reverse primer. One variant was not detected with qPCR HRM or with dHPLC due to its proximity to a T-stretch. With qPCR HRM, prescreening for point mutations and large rearrangements are performed in one tube and in one step with a single machine, without the need for any automated sequencer in the prescreening process. In replicate, its reagent cost, sensitivity, and specificity are comparable to those of dHPLC+MLPA techniques. However, qPCR HRM outperformed the other techniques in terms of its rapidity and amount of data provided.

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