Risk for molecular contamination of tissue samples evaluated for targeted anti-cancer therapy

Eyal Asor, Michael Y. Stav, Einav Simon, Ibrahim Fahoum, Edmond Sabo, Ofer Ben-Izhak, Dov Hershkovitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With the increasing usage of sensitive PCR technology for pharmacogenetics, cross contamination becomes a significant concern. Researchers employed techniques which basically include replacing laboratory equipment after each sample preparation; however, there are no recommended guidelines. In the present work we wanted to evaluate the risk of cross contamination during tissue processing using the routine precaution measures. Twenty-one surgical samples of lung adenocarcinoma were used, of which 7 contained EGFR exon 19 mutation, 7 contained EGFR exon 21 mutation (p.L858R) and 7 were EGFR wild-type. The samples were ordered by alternating the mutation group to maximize the potential for cross contamination and underwent tissue sectioning and de-paraffinization. The entire process was performed using the same tools. Following DNA extraction all samples underwent PCR amplification and were scrutinized for small fractions of EGFR mutation using deep sequencing with the Ion torrent PGM technology. Twenty samples yielded results. The fraction of mutated copies was 41 ± 23% (range 11-66) for the cases with known exon 19 mutation and 48±24% (range 0-65) for the cases with known exon 21 mutations. No in-frame exon 19 deletion mutations were identified in the wild-type (WT) and exon 21 groups. The fraction of EGFR exon 21 (codon 858) mutations was 0.018±0.014% (range 0-0.05%) in the WT and exon 19 groups, which was not statistically different than the background sequencing artifact noise for the same base-pair alteration (p = 0.21). Our results suggest that standard precautions are sufficient for molecular pathology diagnosis of surgical samples and are not associated with increased risk of cross contamination.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0173760
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2017


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