High-depth, high-accuracy microsatellite genotyping enables precision lung cancer risk classification

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There remains a large discrepancy between the known genetic contributions to cancer and that which can be explained by genomic variants, both inherited and somatic. Recently, understudied repetitive DNA regions called microsatellites have been identified as genetic risk markers for a number of diseases including various cancers (breast, ovarian and brain). In this study, we demonstrate an integrated process for identifying and further evaluating microsatellite-based risk markers for lung cancer using data from the cancer genome atlas and the 1000 genomes project. Comparing whole-exome germline sequencing data from 488 TCGA lung cancer samples to germline exome data from 390 control samples from the 1000 genomes project, we identified 119 potentially informative microsatellite loci. These loci were found to be able to distinguish between cancer and control samples with sensitivity and specificity ratios over 0.8. Then these loci, supplemented with additional loci from other cancers and controls, were evaluated using a target enrichment kit and sample-multiplexed nextgen sequencing. Thirteen of the 119 risk markers were found to be informative in a well powered study (> 0.99 for a 0.95 confidence interval) using high-depth (579x ± 315) nextgen sequencing of 30 lung cancer and 89 control samples, resulting in sensitivity and specificity ratios of 0.90 and 0.94, respectively. When 8 loci harvested from the bioinformatic analysis of other cancers are added to the classifier, then the sensitivity and specificity rise to 0.93 and 0.97, respectively. Analysis of the genes harboring these loci revealed two genes (ARID1B and REL) and two significantly enriched pathways (chromatin organization and cellular stress response) suggesting that the process of lung carcinogenesis is linked to chromatin remodeling, inflammation, and tumor microenvironment restructuring. We illustrate that high-depth sequencing enables a high-precision microsatellite-based risk classifier analysis approach. This microsatellite-based platform confirms the potential to create clinically actionable diagnostics for lung cancer.

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