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Multiplex Ligation-dependent Probe Amplification (MLPA) in Tumor Diagnostics and Prognostics

Hömig-Hölzel, Cornelia PhD; Savola, Suvi PhD

doi: 10.1097/PDM.0b013e3182595516
Review Article

The increasing knowledge about genetic alterations and molecular biomarkers in cancer initiation and progression opens new possibilities for the treatment of various types of cancer. This requires the inclusion of sensitive, and preferably multiplex, methods for the detection of molecular genetic alterations in the toolbox of classic pathology. Multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) is a multiplex polymerase chain reaction-based method that can detect changes in the gene copy number status, DNA methylation, and point mutations simultaneously. MLPA probes recognize target sequences of only 50 to 100 nucleotides in length. This makes it possible to use MLPA even on highly fragmented DNA, and allows the detection of small deletions encompassing only a single exon. MLPA is a reliable, cost-effective, and robust method that can be performed using a standard thermocycler and capillary electrophoresis equipment, generating results within 24 hours with a short hands-on working time. Up to 50 different genomic locations can be tested in a single reaction, which can be sufficient to detect those genetic alterations that are of diagnostic and prognostic significance in a certain tumor entity. In the last years, MLPA has been used successfully in tumor diagnostics and in cancer research. This review gives an overview on the collected experience of MLPA applications on tumor DNA, about the advantages but also potential pitfalls and limitations of this technique.

MRC-Holland, Willem Schoutenstraat 6, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

C.H-H. and S.S. are working in the research and development department of MRC-Holland on the design and improvement of the MLPA technique and mixes.

Reprints: Suvi Savola, PhD, MRC-Holland, Willem Schoutenstraat 6, Amsterdam 1057 DN, The Netherlands (e-mail: s.savola@mlpa.com).

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.