BRAF codon 600 mutation testing of melanoma patients is mandatory for the choice of the most appropriate therapy in the clinical setting. Competitive allele specific TaqMan PCR (Cast-PCR) technology allows not only the selective amplification of minor alleles, but it also blocks the amplification of non-mutant allele. We genotyped codon 600 of the BRAF gene in 54 patients' samples by Cast-PCR and bidirectional direct sequence analysis. All the mutations detected by sequencing were also identified by Cast-PCR. In addition, Cast-PCR assay detected four samples carrying mutations and was able to clearly identify two mutations of uncertain interpretation by Sanger sequencing. The limit of detection of Cast-PCR was evaluated by constructing dilution curves of BRAFV600E and BRAFV600K mutated clinical samples mixed with a not-mutated specimens. Both mutations could be detected until a 1:100 mutated/not mutated ratio. Cloning and sequencing of the clones was used to confirm mutations on representative discrepant cases. Cast PCR performances were not affected by intratumour heterogeneity, and less affected by melanin content. Our results indicate that Cast-PCR is a reliable diagnostic tool for the identification of melanoma patients as eligible to be treated with TKIs and might be implemented in the clinical setting as elective screening method.
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