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Principles and Recommendations for Standardizing the Use of the Next Generation Sequencing Variant File in Clinical Settings



Justin M. Zook, Ira Lubin, Lisa V. Kalman


A national workgroup convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified principles and made recommendations for standardizing the description of sequence data contained within the variant file generated during the course of clinical next- generation sequence analysis for diagnosing human heritable conditions. The specifications for variant files were initially developed to be flexible with regard to content representation to support a variety of research applications. This flexibility permits variation with regard to how sequence findings are described and this depends, in part, on the conventions used. For clinical laboratory testing, this poses a problem because these differences can compromise the capability to compare sequence findings among laboratories to confirm results and to query databases to identify clinically relevant variants. To provide for a more consistent representation of sequence findings described within variant files, the workgroup made several recommendations that considered alignment to a common reference sequence, variant caller settings, use of genomic coordinates, and gene and variant naming conventions. These recommendations were considered with regard to the existing variant file specifications presently used in the clinical setting. Adoption of these recommendations is anticipated to reduce the potential for ambiguity in describing sequence findings and facilitate the sharing of genomic data among clinical laboratories and other entities.
Journal of Molecular Diagnostics


genome sequencing, DNA, Biosciences, data format


Zook, J. , Lubin, I. and Kalman, L. (2017), Principles and Recommendations for Standardizing the Use of the Next Generation Sequencing Variant File in Clinical Settings, Journal of Molecular Diagnostics, [online], (Accessed May 24, 2024)


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Created March 16, 2017, Updated November 10, 2018