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J Mol Diagn. 2011 May;13(3):263-70. doi: 10.1016/j.jmoldx.2010.12.002.

Nested high-resolution melting curve analysis a highly sensitive, reliable, and simple method for detection of JAK2 exon 12 mutations--clinical relevance in the monitoring of polycythemia.

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Laboratory of Clinical Cytology, CHU Caremeau, Nîmes, France.


JAK2 exon 12 mutations are found in myeloproliferative disorders characterized by erythrocytosis. Lying in a 33-bp region and conserving the open reading frame, they often present a low allelic burden (<10%), which excludes screening with techniques such as allele-specific PCR or different sequencing protocols. High-resolution melting (HRM), a fast in-tube method, seems the most accurate routine technique for that. We describe a reliable and powerful nested HRM technique, independent of DNA preparation and with technical sensitivity of 100% (95% CI, 93% to 100%) and specificity of 96.7% (95% CI, 89.7% to 96.7%). Screening a cohort of 10 idiopathic erythrocytosis, 28 polycythemia vera, and 7 secondary erythrocytosis cases allowed the detection of 15 mutants, including 9 different mutations, of which 3 were unreported, all in the polycythemia vera group, and presented a characteristic profile: pure erythrocytosis associated with low serum erythropoietin. Threshold detection level ranged from 1% to 3% allelic burden, depending on the mutation. All of the HRM positive signals were found mutated by sequencing. Six of them (40%), however, required cloning before sequencing, because of low allelic burden. Classic techniques such as genomic sequencing may therefore miss patients with mutations. Given its sensitivity, HRM (and nested HRM) can be used in routine diagnosis and seems to be the most efficient of current techniques for detection of JAK2 exon 12 mutations.

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