The antibody genetics of multiple sclerosis: Comparing next-generation sequencing to Sanger sequencing

William H. Rounds, Ann J. Ligocki, Mikhail K. Levin, Benjamin M. Greenberg, Douglas W. Bigwood, Eric M. Eastman, Lindsay G. Cowell, Nancy L. Monson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


We previously identified a distinct mutation pattern in the antibody genes of B cells isolated from cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that can identify patients who have relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) and patients with clinically isolated syndromes (CIS) that will convert to RRMS. This antibody gene signature (AGS) was developed using Sanger sequencing of single B cells. While potentially helpful to patients, Sanger sequencing is not an assay that can be practically deployed into clinic settings. In order to provide AGS evaluations to patients as part of their diagnostic workup, we developed protocols to generate AGS scores using nextgeneration sequencing (NGS) on CSF-derived cell pellets without the need to isolate single cells. This approach has the potential to increase the coverage of the B cell population being analyzed, reduce the time needed to generate AGS scores, and may improve the overall performance of the AGS approach as a diagnostic test in the future. However, no investigations have focused on whether NGS-based repertoires will properly reflect antibody gene frequencies and somatic hypermutation patterns defined by Sanger sequencing. To address this issue, we were able to isolate paired CSF samples from 8 patients who either had MS or were at risk to develop MS. Here we present data that antibody gene frequencies and somatic hypermutation patterns are similar in Sanger and NGS-based antibody repertoires from these paired CSF samples. In addition, AGS scores derived from the NGS database correctly identified the patients who initially had or subsequently converted to RRMS, with similar precision as the Sanger sequencing approach. Further investigation of the utility of the AGS in predicting conversion to MS using NGS-derived antibody repertoires in a larger cohort of patients is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberArticle 166
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
Volume5 AUG
StatePublished - 2014


  • Antibody
  • B cell
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Next-generation sequencing
  • Roche 454

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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