Validation of a Next-Generation Sequencing–Based T-Cell Receptor Gamma Gene Rearrangement Diagnostic Assay

Transitioning from Capillary Electrophoresis to Next-Generation Sequencing
      Assessment of T-cell receptor γ gene (TRG) rearrangements is an importants consideration in the diagnostic workup of lymphoproliferative diseases. Although fragment analysis by PCR and capillary electrophoresis (CE) is the current standard of such assessment in clinical molecular diagnostic laboratories, it does not provide sequence information and is only semi-quantitative. Next-generation sequencing (NGS)-based assays are an attractive alternative to the conventional fragment size–based methods, given that they generate results with specific clonotype sequence information and allow for more accurate quantitation. The present study evaluated various test parameters and performance characteristics of a commercially available NGS-based TRG gene-rearrangement assay by testing 101 clinical samples previously characterized by fragment analysis. The NGS TRG assay showed an overall accuracy of 83% and an analytical specificity of 100%. The concordance rates were 88% to 95% in the Vγ1–8, Vγ10, and Vγ11 gene families, but lower in the Vγ9 gene family. This difference was mostly attributed to the incomplete polyclonal symmetry resulting from the two-tube CE assay versus the one-tube design of the NGS assay. The NGS assay also demonstrated strengths in distinguishing clonotypes of the same fragment size. This clinical validation demonstrated robust performance of the NGS-based TRG assay and identified potential pitfalls associated with CE assay design that are important for understanding the observed discrepancies with the CE-based assay.
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