Deep oncopanel sequencing reveals within block position-dependent quality degradation in FFPE processed samples.


Clinical laboratories routinely use formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue or cell block cytology samples in oncology panel sequencing to identify mutations that can predict patient response to targeted therapy. To understand the technical error due to FFPE processing, a robustly characterized diploid cell line was used to create FFPE samples with four different pre-tissue processing formalin fixation times. A total of 96 FFPE sections were then distributed to different laboratories for targeted sequencing analysis by four oncopanels, and variants resulting from technical error were identified.

Tissue sections that fail more frequently show low cellularity, lower than recommended library preparation DNA input, or target sequencing depth. Importantly, sections from block surfaces are more likely to show FFPE-specific errors, akin to "edge effects" seen in histology, while the inner samples display no quality degradation related to fixation time.

To assure reliable results, we recommend avoiding the block surface portion and restricting mutation detection to genomic regions of high confidence.

  • Arib H
  • Blomquist TM
  • Brock JE
  • Craig DJ
  • Crawford EL
  • Dominiak N
  • Farkas DH
  • Gong B
  • Hipp J
  • Johann DJ
  • Jones W
  • Kusko R
  • Li D
  • Lococo JS
  • Mason CE
  • Mittal VK
  • Morrison T
  • Novoradovskaya N
  • Qiu F
  • Raymond A
  • Richmond TA
  • Sebra R
  • Shi L
  • Smith ML
  • Stetson D
  • Tom N
  • Tong W
  • Willey JC
  • Xiao W
  • Xu J
  • Yang M
  • Yeo JY
  • Yin L
  • Zhang Y
  • Zhang Z
PubMed ID
Appears In
Genome Biol, 2022, 23 (1)