A Novel Tandem Duplication Assay to Detect Minimal Residual Disease in FLT3/ITD AML

Ming Tseh Lin, Li Hui Tseng, Jonathan C. Dudley, Stacey Riel, Harrison Tsai, Gang Zheng, Keith W. Pratz, Mark J. Levis, Christopher D. Gocke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Internal tandem duplication (ITD) of the fms-related tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) gene is associated with a poor prognosis in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients with a normal karyotype. The current standard polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay for FLT3/ITD detection is not sufficiently sensitive to monitor minimal residual disease (MRD). Clone-specific assays may have sufficient sensitivity but are not practical to implement, since each clone-specific primer/probe requires clinical validation. Objective: To develop an assay for clinical molecular diagnostics laboratories to monitor MRD in FLT3/ITD AMLs. Methods: We designed a simple novel assay, tandem duplication PCR (TD-PCR), and tested its sensitivity, specificity, and clinical utility in FLT3/ITD AML patients. Results: TD-PCR was capable of detecting a single ITD molecule and was applicable to 75 % of ITD mutants tested. TD-PCR detected MRD in bone marrow prior to patient relapse. TD-PCR also identified low-level ITD mutants not only in FLT3/ITD AMLs but also in initial diagnostic specimens that were reportedly negative by the standard assay in patients who progressed with the same ITDs detected by the TD-PCR assay. Conclusion: Detection of MRD by TD-PCR may guide patient selection for early clinical intervention. In contrast to clone-specific approaches, the TD-PCR assay can be more easily validated for MRD detection in clinical laboratories because it uses standardized primers and a universal positive control. In addition, our findings on multi-clonality and low-level ITDs suggest that further studies are warranted to elucidate their clinical/biological significance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)409-417
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Diagnosis and Therapy
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Genetics
  • Pharmacology


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