Scientific reports 2017 09 197(1) 11855 doi 10.1038/s41598-017-11201-4
Copy number alterations (CNAs), a common genomic event during carcinogenesis, are known to affect a large fraction of the genome. Common recurrent gains or losses of specific chromosomal regions occur at frequencies that they may be considered distinctive features of tumoral cells. Here we introduce a novel multiplexed droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) assay capable of detecting recurrent CNAs that drive tumorigenesis of oral squamous cell carcinoma. Applied to DNA extracted from oral cell lines and clinical samples of various disease stages, we found good agreement between CNAs detected by our ddPCR assay with those previously reported using comparative genomic hybridization or single nucleotide polymorphism arrays. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the ability to target specific locations of the genome permits detection of clinically relevant oncogenic events such as small, submicroscopic homozygous deletions. Additional capabilities of the multiplexed ddPCR assay include the ability to infer ploidy level, quantify the change in copy number of target loci with high-level gains, and simultaneously assess the status and viral load for high-risk human papillomavirus types 16 and 18. This novel multiplexed ddPCR assay therefore may have clinical value in differentiating between benign oral lesions from those that are at risk of progressing to oral cancer.