Next-generation molecular testing of newborn dried blood spots for cystic fibrosis


Newborn screening for cystic fibrosis enables early detection and management of this debilitating genetic disease. Implementing comprehensive CFTR analysis using Sanger sequencing as a component of confirmatory testing of all screen-positive newborns has remained impractical due to relatively lengthy turnaround times and high cost. Here, we describe CFseq, a highly sensitive, specific, rapid (<3 days), and cost-effective assay for comprehensive CFTR gene analysis from dried blood spots, the common newborn screening specimen. The unique design of CFseq integrates optimized dried blood spot sample processing, a novel multiplex amplification method from as little as 1 ng of genomic DNA, and multiplex next-generation sequencing of 96 samples in a single run to detect all relevant CFTR mutation types. Sequence data analysis utilizes publicly available software supplemented by an expert-curated compendium of >2000 CFTR variants. Validation studies across 190 dried blood spots demonstrated 100% sensitivity and a positive predictive value of 100% for single-nucleotide variants and insertions and deletions and complete concordance across the polymorphic poly-TG and consecutive poly-T tracts. Additionally, we accurately detected both a known exon 2,3 deletion and a previously undetected exon 22,23 deletion. CFseq is thus able to replace all existing CFTR molecular assays with a single robust, definitive assay at significant cost and time savings and could be adapted to high-throughput screening of other inherited conditions.

The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics, 18(2)