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J Mol Diagn. 2010 Sep;12(5):705-11. doi: 10.2353/jmoldx.2010.100018. Epub 2010 Jul 8.

The use of COLD-PCR and high-resolution melting analysis improves the limit of detection of KRAS and BRAF mutations in colorectal cancer.

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Division of Clinical Biochemistry, University of Florence, Florence, Italy.


Fast and reliable tests to detect mutations in human cancers are required to better define clinical samples and orient targeted therapies. KRAS mutations occur in 30-50% of colorectal cancers (CRCs) and represent a marker of clinical resistance to cetuximab therapy. In addition, the BRAF V600E is mutated in about 10% of CRCs, and the development of a specific inhibitor of mutant BRAF kinase has prompted a growing interest in BRAF (V600E) detection. Traditional methods, such as PCR and direct sequencing, do not detect low-level mutations in cancer, resulting in false negative diagnoses. In this study, we designed a protocol to detect mutations of KRAS and BRAF(V600E) in 117 sporadic CRCs based on coamplification at lower denaturation temperature PCR (COLD-PCR) and high-resolution melting (HRM). Using traditional PCR and direct sequencing, we found KRAS mutations in 47 (40%) patients and BRAF(V600E) in 10 (8.5%). The use of COLD-PCR in apparently wild-type samples allowed us to identify 15 newly mutated CRCs (10 for KRAS and 5 for BRAF (V600E)), raising the percentage of mutated CRCs to 48.7% for KRAS and to 12.8% for BRAF (V600E). Therefore, COLD-PCR combined with HRM permits the correct identification of less represented mutations in CRC and better selection of patients eligible for targeted therapies, without requiring expensive and time-consuming procedures.

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