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Microsatellite instability detection using a large next-generation sequencing cancer panel across diverse tumour types
  1. Jiuhong Pang,
  2. Tatyana Gindin,
  3. Mahesh Mansukhani,
  4. Helen Fernandes,
  5. Susan Hsiao
  1. Department of Pathology and Cell Biology, Columbia University Medical Center, New York City, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Susan Hsiao, Pathology and Cell Biology, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY 10032-3784, USA; sjh2155{at}


Aim Microsatellite instability (MSI), a hallmark of DNA mismatch repair deficiency, is a key molecular biomarker with multiple clinical implications including the selection of patients for immunotherapy, identifying patients who may have Lynch syndrome and predicting prognosis in patients with colorectal tumours. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) provides the opportunity to interrogate large numbers of microsatellite loci concurrently with genomic variants. We sought to develop a method to detect MSI that would not require paired normal tissue and would leverage the sequence data obtained from a broad range of tumours tested using our 467-gene NGS Columbia Combined Cancer Panel (CCCP).

Methods Altered mononucleotide and dinucleotide microsatellite loci across the CCCP region of interest were evaluated in clinical samples encompassing a diverse range of tumour types. The number of altered loci was used to develop a decision tree classifier model trained on the retrospectively collected cohort of 107 clinical cases sequenced by the CCCP assay.

Results The classifier was able to correctly classify all cases and was then used to analyse a test set of clinical cases (n=112) and was able to correctly predict their MSI status with 100% sensitivity and specificity. Analysis of recurrently altered loci identified alterations in genes involved in DNA repair, signalling and transcriptional regulation pathways, many of which have been implicated in MSI tumours.

Conclusion This study highlights the utility of this approach, which should be applicable to laboratories performing similar testing.

  • microsatellite instability
  • next-generation sequencing
  • mismatch repair
  • biomarker

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  • Handling editor Runjan Chetty.

  • Contributors JP, SH, TG and MM designed the study. JP, TG and SH performed the analysis. SH, JP, TG, MM and HF performed interpretation and contributed to the writing of the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests SH has the following disclosures: honoraria from Bristol-Myers Squibb and Loxo Oncology and research funding from Bristol-Myers Squibb.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.