A method for noninvasive detection of fetal large deletions/duplications by low coverage massively parallel sequencing


  • Funding sources: The study was funded by Shenzhen Birth Defect Screening Project Lab [JZF No. (2011) 861] approved by Shenzhen Municipal Commission for Development and Reform and Key Laboratory Project in Shenzhen (CXB200903110066A and CXB201108250096A) and Key Laboratory of Cooperation Project in Guangdong Province (2011A060906007).
  • Conflicts of interest: Shengpei Chen, Chunlei Zhang, Fuman Jiang, Fang Chen, Hui Jiang, Xiaoyu Pan, Weiwei Xie, Ping Liu, Xuchao Li, Lei Zhang, Songgang Li, Yingrui Li, Xiuqing Zhang and Wei Wang are employees of BGI-Shenzhen, and none of the other authors have any financial relationship with BGI-Shenzhen.



To report the feasibility of fetal chromosomal deletion/duplication detection using a novel bioinformatic method of low coverage whole genome sequencing of maternal plasma.


A practical method Fetal Copy-number Analysis through Maternal Plasma Sequencing (FCAPS), integrated with GC-bias correction, binary segmentation algorithm and dynamic threshold strategy, was developed to detect fetal chromosomal deletions/duplications of >10 Mb by low coverage whole genome sequencing (about 0.08-fold). The sensitivity/specificity of the resultant FCAPS algorithm in detecting deletions/duplications was firstly assessed in silico and then tested in 1311 maternal plasma samples from those with known G-banding karyotyping results of the fetus.


Deletions/duplications, ranged from 9.01 to 28.46 Mb, were suspected in four of the 1311 samples, of which three were consistent with the results of fetal karyotyping. In one case, the suspected abnormality was not confirmed by karyotyping, representing a false positive case. No false negative case was observed in the remaining 1307 low-risk samples. The sensitivity and specificity for detection of >10-Mb chromosomal deletions/duplications were100% and 99.92%, respectively.


Our study demonstrated FCAPS has the potential to detect fetal large deletions/duplications (>10 Mb) with low coverage maternal plasma DNA sequencing currently used for fetal aneuploidy detection. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.