Single Molecule Real Time (SMRT) sequencing sensitively detects polyclonal and compound BCR-ABL in patients who relapse on kinase inhibitor therapy.
Secondary kinase domain (KD) mutations are the most well-recognized mechanism of resistance to tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and other cancers. In some cases, multiple drug resistant KD mutations can coexist in an individual patient (“polyclonality”). Alternatively, more than one mutation can occur in tandem on a single allele (“compound mutations”) following response and relapse to sequentially administered TKI therapy. Distinguishing between these two scenarios can inform the clinical choice of subsequent TKI treatment. There is currently no clinically adaptable methodology that offers the ability to distinguish polyclonal from compound mutations. Due to the size of the BCR-ABL KD where TKI-resistant mutations are detected, next-generation platforms are unable to generate reads of sufficient length to determine if two mutations separated by 500 nucleotides reside on the same allele. Pacific Biosciences RS Single Molecule Real-Time (SMRT) circular consensus sequencing technology is a novel third generation deep sequencing technology capable of rapidly and reliably achieving average read lengths of ~1000 bp and frequently beyond 3000 bp, allowing sequencing of the entire ABL KD on single strand of DNA. We sought to address the ability of SMRT sequencing technology to distinguish polyclonal from compound mutations using clinical samples obtained from patients who have relapsed on BCR-ABL TKI treatment.