Next-Generation Sequencing Somatic and Germline Assay Troubleshooting Guide Derived From Proficiency Testing Data

Valentina Nardi, Karen D. Tsuchiya, Annette S. Kim, Lora J.H. Bean, Jaimie G. Halley, Thomas A. Long, Szabolcs Szelinger, Patricia Vasalos, John A. Thorson, Ann M. Moyer, Joel T. Moncur*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Context.-Next-generation sequencing-based assays are increasingly used in clinical molecular laboratories to detect somatic variants in solid tumors and hematologic malignancies and to detect constitutional variants. Proficiency testing data are potential sources of information about challenges in performing these assays. Objective.-To examine the most common sources of unacceptable results from the College of American Pathologists Next-Generation Sequencing Bioinformatics, Hematological Malignancies, Solid Tumor, and Germline surveys and provide recommendations on how to avoid these pitfalls and improve performance. Design.-The College of American Pathologists nextgeneration sequencing somatic and germline proficiency testing survey results from 2016 to 2019 were analyzed to identify the most common causes of unacceptable results. Results.-On somatic and germline proficiency testing surveys, 95.9% (18 815/19 623) and 97.8% (33 890/34 641) of all variants were correctly identified, respectively. The most common causes of unacceptable results related to sequencing were false-negative errors in genomic regions that were difficult to sequence because of high GC content. False-positive errors occurred in the context of homopolymers and pseudogenes. Recurrent errors in variant annotation were seen for dinucleotide and duplication variants and included unacceptable transcript selection and outdated variant nomenclature. A small percentage of preanalytic or postanalytic errors were attributed to specimen swaps and transcription errors. Conclusions.-Laboratories demonstrate overall excellent performance for detecting variants in both somatic and germline proficiency testing surveys. Proficiency testing survey results highlight infrequent, but recurrent, analytic and nonanalytic challenges in performing nextgeneration sequencing-based assays and point to remedies to help laboratories improve performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-461
Number of pages11
JournalArchives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes


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