Clinical Implications of a Targeted RNA-Sequencing Panel in the Detection of Gene Fusions in Solid Tumors

Lulu Sun, Samantha N. McNulty, Michael J. Evenson, Xiaopei Zhu, Joshua A. Robinson, Patrick R. Mann, Eric J. Duncavage, John D. Pfeifer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The detection of recurrent gene fusions can help confirm diagnoses in solid tumors, particularly when the morphology and staining are unusual or nonspecific, and can guide therapeutic decisions. Although fluorescence in situ hybridization and PCR are often used to identify fusions, the rearrangement must be suspected, with only a few prioritized probes run. It was hypothesized that the Illumina TruSight RNA Fusion Panel, which detects fusions of 507 genes and their partners, would uncover fusions with greater sensitivity than other approaches, leading to changes in diagnosis, prognosis, or therapy. Targeted RNA sequencing was performed on formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded sarcoma and carcinoma cases in which fluorescence in situ hybridization, RT-PCR, or DNA-based sequencing was conducted during the diagnostic workup. Of the 153 cases, 138 (90%) were sequenced with adequate quality control metrics. A total of 101 of 138 (73%) cases were concordant by RNA sequencing and the prior test method. RNA sequencing identified an additional 30 cases (22%) with fusions that were not detected by conventional methods. In seven cases (5%), the additional fusion information provided by RNA sequencing would have altered diagnosis and management. A total of 19 novel fusion pairs (not previously described in the literature) were discovered (14%). Overall, the findings show that a targeted RNA-sequencing method can detect gene fusions in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded specimens with high sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1749-1760
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Molecular Diagnostics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021


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