CHILD: A new tool for detecting low-abundance insertions and deletions in standard sequence traces Academic Article uri icon


  • Several methods have been proposed for detecting insertion/deletions (indels) from chromatograms generated by Sanger sequencing. However, most such methods are unsuitable when the mutated and normal variants occur at unequal ratios, such as is expected to be the case in cancer, with organellar DNA or with alternatively spliced RNAs. In addition, the current methods do not provide robust estimates of the statistical confidence of their results, and the sensitivity of this approach has not been rigorously evaluated. Here, we present CHILD, a tool specifically designed for indel detection in mixtures where one variant is rare. CHILD makes use of standard sequence alignment statistics to evaluate the significance of the results. The sensitivity of CHILD was tested by sequencing controlled mixtures of deleted and undeleted plasmids at various ratios. Our results indicate that CHILD can identify deleted molecules present as just 5% of the mixture. Notably, the results were plasmid/primer-specific; for some primers and/or plasmids, the deleted molecule was only detected when it comprised 10% or more of the mixture. The false positive rate was estimated to be lower than 0.4%. CHILD was implemented as a user-oriented web site, providing a sensitive and experimentally validated method for the detection of rare indel-carrying molecules in common Sanger sequence reads.

publication date

  • January 1, 2011