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Hum Mutat. 2006 Aug;27(8):814-21.

MLPA: a rapid, reliable, and sensitive method for detection and analysis of abnormalities of 22q.

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  • 1Division of Human Genetics, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.


In this study, essential test characteristics of the recently described multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) method are presented, using chromosome 22 as a model. This novel method allows the relative quantification of approximately 40-45 different target DNA sequences in a single reaction. For the purpose of this study, MLPA was performed in a blinded manner on a training set containing over 50 samples, including typical 22q11.2 deletions, various atypical deletions, duplications (trisomy and tetrasomy), and unbalanced translocations. All samples in the training set have been previously characterized by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) with cosmid or BAC clones and/or cytogenetic studies. MLPA findings were consistent with cytogenetic and FISH studies, no rearrangement went undetected and repeated tests gave consistent results. At a relative change in comparative signal strength of 30% or more, sensitivity and specificity values were 0.95 and 0.99, respectively. Given that MLPA is likely to be used as an initial screening method, a higher sensitivity, at the cost of a lower specificity, was deemed more appropriate. A receiver operator characteristic (ROC) curve analysis was performed to calculate the most optimal threshold range, with associated sensitivity and specificity values of 0.99 and 0.97, respectively. Finally, performance of each individual probe was analyzed, providing further useful information for the interpretation of MLPA results. In conclusion, MLPA has proven to be a highly sensitive and accurate tool for detecting copy number changes in the 22q11.2 region, making it a fast and economic alternative to currently used methods. The current study provides valuable and detailed information on the characteristics of this novel method.

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