Diagnostic Utility of Gene Fusion Panel to Detect Gene Fusions in Fresh and Formalin-Fixed, Paraffin-Embedded Cancer Specimens

Lisa Haley, Vamsi Parimi, Liqun Jiang, Aparna Pallavajjala, Melanie Hardy, Raluca Yonescu, Laura Morsberger, Victoria Stinnett, Patty Long, Ying S. Zou, Christopher D. Gocke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Somatic gene fusions are common in leukemias/lymphomas and solid tumors. The detection of gene fusions is crucial for diagnosis. NanoString fusion technology is a multiplexed hybridization method that interrogates hundreds of gene fusions in a single reaction. This study's objective was to determine the performance characteristics and diagnostic utility of NanoString fusion assays in a clinical diagnostics laboratory. Validation using 100 positive specimens and 15 negative specimens by a combined reference standard of fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH)/RT-PCR/next-generation sequencing (NGS) assays achieved 100% sensitivity in leukemias/lymphomas and 95.0% sensitivity and 100% specificity in solid tumors. Subsequently, 214 consecutive clinical cases, including 73 leukemia/lymphoma specimens and 141 formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded solid tumor specimens, were analyzed by gene fusion panels across 638 unique gene fusion transcripts. A variety of comparator tests, including FISH panels, conventional karyotyping, a DNA-based targeted NGS assay, and custom RT-PCR testing, were performed in parallel. The gene fusion assay detected 31 gene fusions, including 16 in leukemia/lymphoma specimens and 15 in solid tumor specimens. The overall sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of gene fusions detected by the gene fusion panel in all 329 specimens (validation and consecutive clinical specimens) tested in this study were 94.8%, 100%, and 97.9%, respectively, compared with FISH/RT-PCR/NGS assays. The gene fusion panel is a reliable approach that maximizes molecular detection of fusions among both fresh and formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded cancer specimens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1343-1358
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Molecular Diagnostics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Molecular Medicine


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