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1.  Detection and quantification of chimerism by droplet digital PCR 
Chimerism  2013;4(3):102-108.
Accurate quantification of chimerism and microchimerism is proving to be increasingly valuable for hematopoietic cell transplantation as well as non-transplant conditions. However, methods that are available to quantify low-level chimerism lack accuracy. Therefore, we developed and validated a method for quantifying chimerism based on digital PCR technology. We demonstrate accurate quantification that far exceeds what is possible with analog qPCR down to 0.01% with the potential to go even lower. Also, this method is inherently more informative than qPCR. We expect the advantages of digital PCR will make it the preferred method for chimerism analysis.
PMCID: PMC3782543  PMID: 23974275
chimerism; microchimerism; digital; PCR; quantitative; limit of detection; informative loci
2.  Clinically Relevant Subsets Identified by Gene Expression Patterns Support a Revised Ontogenic Model of Wilms Tumor: A Children's Oncology Group Study12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2012;14(8):742-756.
Wilms tumors (WT) have provided broad insights into the interface between development and tumorigenesis. Further understanding is confounded by their genetic, histologic, and clinical heterogeneity, the basis of which remains largely unknown. We evaluated 224 WT for global gene expression patterns; WT1, CTNNB1, and WTX mutation; and 11p15 copy number and methylation patterns. Five subsets were identified showing distinct differences in their pathologic and clinical features: these findings were validated in 100 additional WT. The gene expression pattern of each subset was compared with published gene expression profiles during normal renal development. A novel subset of epithelial WT in infants lacked WT1, CTNNB1, and WTX mutations and nephrogenic rests and displayed a gene expression pattern of the postinduction nephron, and none recurred. Three subsets were characterized by a low expression of WT1 and intralobar nephrogenic rests. These differed in their frequency of WT1 and CTNNB1 mutations, in their age, in their relapse rate, and in their expression similarities with the intermediate mesoderm versus the metanephric mesenchyme. The largest subset was characterized by biallelic methylation of the imprint control region 1, a gene expression profile of the metanephric mesenchyme, and both interlunar and perilobar nephrogenic rests. These data provide a biologic explanation for the clinical and pathologic heterogeneity seen within WT and enable the future development of subset-specific therapeutic strategies. Further, these data support a revision of the current model of WT ontogeny, which allows for an interplay between the type of initiating event and the developmental stage in which it occurs.
PMCID: PMC3431181  PMID: 22952427
3.  Pilot Study of the Association of the DDAH2 −449G Polymorphism with Asymmetric Dimethylarginine and Hemodynamic Shock in Pediatric Sepsis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33355.
Genetic variability in the regulation of the nitric oxide (NO) pathway may influence hemodynamic changes in pediatric sepsis. We sought to determine whether functional polymorphisms in DDAH2, which metabolizes the NO synthase inhibitor asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA), are associated with susceptibility to sepsis, plasma ADMA, distinct hemodynamic states, and vasopressor requirements in pediatric septic shock.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In a prospective study, blood and buccal swabs were obtained from 82 patients ≤18 years (29 with severe sepsis/septic shock plus 27 febrile and 26 healthy controls). Plasma ADMA was measured using tandem mass spectrometry. DDAH2 gene was partially sequenced to determine the −871 6g/7g insertion/deletion and −449G/C single nucleotide polymorphisms. Shock type (“warm” versus “cold”) was characterized by clinical assessment. The −871 7g allele was more common in septic (17%) then febrile (4%) and healthy (8%) patients, though this was not significant after controlling for sex and race (p = 0.96). ADMA did not differ between −871 6g/7g genotypes. While genotype frequencies also did not vary between groups for the −449G/C SNP (p = 0.75), septic patients with at least one −449G allele had lower ADMA (median, IQR 0.36, 0.30–0.41 µmol/L) than patients with the −449CC genotype (0.55, 0.49–0.64 µmol/L, p = 0.008) and exhibited a higher incidence of “cold” shock (45% versus 0%, p = 0.01). However, after controlling for race, the association with shock type became non-significant (p = 0.32). Neither polymorphism was associated with inotrope score or vasoactive infusion duration.
The −449G polymorphism in the DDAH2 gene was associated with both low plasma ADMA and an increased likelihood of presenting with “cold” shock in pediatric sepsis, but not with vasopressor requirement. Race, however, was an important confounder. These results support and justify the need for larger studies in racially homogenous populations to further examine whether genotypic differences in NO metabolism contribute to phenotypic variability in sepsis pathophysiology.
PMCID: PMC3299781  PMID: 22428028
4.  WT1 Mutation and 11P15 Loss of Heterozygosity Predict Relapse in Very Low-Risk Wilms Tumors Treated With Surgery Alone: A Children's Oncology Group Study 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2010;29(6):698-703.
Children's Oncology Group defines very low-risk Wilms tumors (VLRWT) as stage I favorable histology Wilms tumors weighing less than 550 g in children younger than 24 months of age. VLRWTs may be treated with nephrectomy alone. However, 10% to 15% of VLRWTs relapse without chemotherapy. Previous studies suggest that VLRWTs with low WT1 expression and/or 11p15 loss of heterozygosity (LOH) may have increased risk of relapse. The current study validates these findings within prospectively identified children with VLRWT who did not receive adjuvant chemotherapy.
Patients and Methods
Fifty-six VLRWTs (10 relapses) were analyzed for mutation of WT1, CTNNB1, and WTX; for 11p15 LOH using microsatellite analysis; and for H19DMR and KvDMR1 methylation.
11p15 LOH was identified in 19 (41%) of 46 evaluable VLRWTs and was significantly associated with relapse (P < .001); 16 of 19 were isodisomic for 11p15. WT1 mutation was identified in nine (20%) of 45 evaluable VLRWTs and was significantly associated with relapse (P = .004); all nine cases also had 11p15 LOH. All evaluable tumors showing LOH by microsatellite analysis also showed LOH by methylation analysis. Retention of the normal imprinting pattern was identified in 24 of 42 evaluable tumors, and none relapsed. Loss of imprinting at 11p15 was identified in one of 42 tumors.
WT1 mutation and 11p15 LOH are associated with relapse in patients with VLRWTs who do not receive chemotherapy. These may provide meaningful biomarkers to stratify patients for reduced chemotherapy in the future. VLRWTs show a different incidence of WT1 mutation and 11p15 imprinting patterns than has been reported in Wilms tumors of all ages.
PMCID: PMC3056654  PMID: 21189373
6.  Neisseria Species Identification Assay for the Confirmation of Neisseria gonorrhoeae-Positive Results of the COBAS Amplicor PCR▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2007;45(5):1403-1409.
Screening assays for Neisseria gonorrhoeae exhibit low positive predictive values, particularly in low-prevalence populations. A new real-time PCR assay that detects and identifies individual Neisseria spp. using melt curve analysis was compared to two previously published supplementary assays. NsppID, a 16S rRNA real-time PCR/melt curve assay developed to distinguish N. gonorrhoeae from other Neisseria spp., was compared to real-time PCR assays targeting genes reportedly specific for N. gonorrhoeae, the cppB gene and the porA pseudogene. A total of 408 clinical specimens (324 female endocervical swabs and 84 male urine or urogenital swab specimens) were screened using the COBAS Amplicor assay for Chlamydia trachomatis and N. gonorrhoeae (CT/NG) (Roche Diagnostics, Indianapolis, IN) followed by confirmatory testing via real-time PCR. The NsppID assay detected Neisseria spp. in 150/181 COBAS-positive specimens (82%), including six dual infections, and identified N. gonorrhoeae in 102 (56%) specimens. Sixty-nine of 181 (38%) specimens were positive for N. gonorrhoeae by porA pseudogene, and 115/181 (64%) were positive for cppB. However, cppB was also positive in 15% of COBAS-negative specimens, more than either NsppID (4%) or porA pseudogene (2%) assays. The porA pseudogene assay had the highest specificity for both genders but the lowest sensitivity, especially in female specimens. NsppID had a slightly lower specificity but greater sensitivity and overall accuracy. The least desirable confirmatory assay was cppB, due to poor specificity. The NsppID assay is an accurate confirmatory assay for N. gonorrhoeae detection. In addition, the NsppID assay can identify the non-N. gonorrhoeae species responsible for the majority of false-positive results from the COBAS Amplicor CT/NG assay.
PMCID: PMC1865884  PMID: 17360838
7.  Variation in pre-PCR processing of FFPE samples leads to discrepancies in BRAF and EGFR mutation detection: a diagnostic RING trial 
Journal of Clinical Pathology  2014;68(2):111-118.
Mutation detection accuracy has been described extensively; however, it is surprising that pre-PCR processing of formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) samples has not been systematically assessed in clinical context. We designed a RING trial to (i) investigate pre-PCR variability, (ii) correlate pre-PCR variation with EGFR/BRAF mutation testing accuracy and (iii) investigate causes for observed variation.
13 molecular pathology laboratories were recruited. 104 blinded FFPE curls including engineered FFPE curls, cell-negative FFPE curls and control FFPE tissue samples were distributed to participants for pre-PCR processing and mutation detection. Follow-up analysis was performed to assess sample purity, DNA integrity and DNA quantitation.
Rate of mutation detection failure was 11.9%. Of these failures, 80% were attributed to pre-PCR error. Significant differences in DNA yields across all samples were seen using analysis of variance (p<0.0001), and yield variation from engineered samples was not significant (p=0.3782). Two laboratories failed DNA extraction from samples that may be attributed to operator error. DNA extraction protocols themselves were not found to contribute significant variation. 10/13 labs reported yields averaging 235.8 ng (95% CI 90.7 to 380.9) from cell-negative samples, which was attributed to issues with spectrophotometry. DNA measurements using Qubit Fluorometry demonstrated a median fivefold overestimation of DNA quantity by Nanodrop Spectrophotometry. DNA integrity and PCR inhibition were factors not found to contribute significant variation.
In this study, we provide evidence demonstrating that variation in pre-PCR steps is prevalent and may detrimentally affect the patient's ability to receive critical therapy. We provide recommendations for preanalytical workflow optimisation that may reduce errors in down-stream sequencing and for next-generation sequencing library generation.
PMCID: PMC4316935  PMID: 25430497

Results 1-7 (7)