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In Analytical chemistry

Real-time digital polymerase chain reaction (qdPCR) coupled with machine learning (ML) methods has shown the potential to unlock scientific breakthroughs, particularly in the field of molecular diagnostics for infectious diseases. One promising application of this emerging field explores single fluorescent channel PCR multiplex by extracting target-specific kinetic and thermodynamic information contained in amplification curves, also known as data-driven multiplexing. However, accurate target classification is compromised by the presence of undesired amplification events and not ideal reaction conditions. Therefore, here, we proposed a novel framework to identify and filter out nonspecific and low-efficient reactions from qdPCR data using outlier detection algorithms purely based on sigmoidal trends of amplification curves. As a proof-of-concept, this framework is implemented to improve the classification performance of the recently reported data-driven multiplexing method called amplification curve analysis (ACA), using available published data where the ACA is demonstrated to screen carbapenemase-producing organisms in clinical isolates. Furthermore, we developed a novel strategy, named adaptive mapping filter (AMF), to adjust the percentage of outliers removed according to the number of positive counts in qdPCR. From an overall total of 152,000 amplification events, 116,222 positive amplification reactions were evaluated before and after filtering by comparing against melting peak distribution, proving that abnormal amplification curves (outliers) are linked to shifted melting distribution or decreased PCR efficiency. The ACA was applied to assess classification performance before and after AMF, showing an improved sensitivity of 1.2% when using inliers compared to a decrement of 19.6% when using outliers (p-value < 0.0001), removing 53.5% of all wrong melting curves based only on the amplification shape. This work explores the correlation between the kinetics of amplification curves and the thermodynamics of melting curves, and it demonstrates that filtering out nonspecific or low-efficient reactions can significantly improve the classification accuracy for cutting-edge multiplexing methodologies.

Miglietta Luca, Xu Ke, Chhaya Priya, Kreitmann Louis, Hill-Cawthorne Kerri, Bolt Frances, Holmes Alison, Georgiou Pantelis, Rodriguez-Manzano Jesus