False negatives in GBA1 sequencing due to polymerase dependent allelic imbalance

JM den Heijer, A Schmitz, P Lansbury, VC Cullen, DC Hilt, Vincenzo Bonifati, GJ Groeneveld

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A variant in the GBA1 gene is one of the most common genetic risk factors to develop Parkinson’s disease (PD). Here the serendipitous finding is reported of a polymerase dependent allelic imbalance when using next generation sequencing, potentially resulting in false-negative results when the allele frequency falls below the variant calling threshold (by default commonly at 30%). The full GBA1 gene was sequenced using next generation sequencing on saliva derived DNA from PD patients. Four polymerase chain reaction conditions were varied in twelve samples, to investigate the effect on allelic imbalance: (1) the primers (n = 4); (2) the polymerase enzymes (n = 2); (3) the primer annealing temperature (Ta) specified for the used polymerase; and (4) the amount of DNA input. Initially, 1295 samples were sequenced using Q5 High-Fidelity DNA Polymerase. 112 samples (8.6%) had an exonic variant and an additional 104 samples (8.0%) had an exonic variant that did not pass the variant frequency calling threshold of 30%. After changing the polymerase to TaKaRa LA Taq DNA Polymerase Hot-Start Version: RR042B, all samples had an allele frequency passing the calling threshold. Allele frequency was unaffected by a change in primer, annealing temperature or amount of DNA input. Sequencing of the GBA1 gene using next generation sequencing might be susceptible to a polymerase specific allelic imbalance, which can result in a large amount of flase-negative results. This was resolved in our case by changing the polymerase. Regions displaying low variant calling frequencies in GBA1 sequencing output in previous and future studies might warrant additional scrutiny.

Original languageEnglish
Article number161
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Genotyping was funded by Lysosomal Therapeutics, Inc.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

Research programs

  • EMC OR-01


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