Simultaneous detection of small copy number variations (CNVs) (<0.5 kb) and single-nucleotide variants in clinically significant genes is of great interest for clinical laboratories. The analytical variability in next-generation sequencing (NGS) and artifacts in coverage data because of issues with mappability along with lack of robust bioinformatics tools for CNV detection have limited the utility of targeted NGS data to identify CNVs. We describe the development and implementation of a bioinformatics algorithm, copy number variation–random forest (CNV-RF), that incorporates a machine learning component to identify CNVs from targeted NGS data. Using CNV-RF, we identified 12 of 13 deletions in samples with known CNVs, two cases with duplications, and identified novel deletions in 22 additional cases. Furthermore, no CNVs were identified among 60 genes in 14 cases with normal copy number and no CNVs were identified in another 104 patients with clinical suspicion of CNVs. All positive deletions and duplications were confirmed using a quantitative PCR method. CNV-RF also detected heterozygous deletions and duplications with a specificity of 50% across 4813 genes. The ability of CNV-RF to detect clinically relevant CNVs with a high degree of sensitivity along with confirmation using a low-cost quantitative PCR method provides a framework for providing comprehensive NGS-based CNV/single-nucleotide variant detection in a clinical molecular diagnostics laboratory.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Supported by funds from the Bob Allison Ataxia Research Center (G.O., M.B., and B.T.) and the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at the University of Minnesota (C.H. and B.T.).
© 2016 American Society for Investigative Pathology and the Association for Molecular Pathology