Rare variation in protein coding sequence is poorly captured by GWAS arrays and has been hypothesized to contribute to disease heritability. Using the Illumina HumanExome SNP array, we successfully genotyped 191,032 common and rare non-synonymous, splice site, or nonsense variants in a multiethnic sample of 2,984 breast cancer cases, 4,376 prostate cancer cases, and 7,545 controls. In breast cancer, the strongest associations included either SNPs in or gene burden scores for genes LDLRAD1, SLC19A1, FGFBP3, CASP5, MMAB, SLC16A6, and INS-IGF2. In prostate cancer, one of the most associated SNPs was in the gene GPRC6A (rs2274911, Pro91Ser, OR = 0.88, P = 1.3×10−5) near to a known risk locus for prostate cancer; other suggestive associations were noted in genes such as F13A1, ANXA4, MANSC1, and GP6. For both breast and prostate cancer, several of the most significant associations involving SNPs or gene burden scores (sum of minor alleles) were noted in genes previously reported to be associated with a cancer-related phenotype. However, only one of the associations (rs145889899 in LDLRAD1, p = 2.5×10−7 only seen in African Americans) for overall breast or prostate cancer risk was statistically significant after correcting for multiple comparisons. In addition to breast and prostate cancer, other cancer-related traits were examined (body mass index, PSA level, and alcohol drinking) with a number of known and potentially novel associations described. In general, these findings do not support there being many protein coding variants of moderate to high risk for breast and prostate cancer with odds ratios over a range that is probably required for protein coding variation to play a truly outstanding role in risk heritability. Very large sample sizes will be required to better define the role of rare and less penetrant coding variation in prostate and breast cancer disease genetics.
For breast and prostate cancer, GWAS have revealed many risk variants (>70 for each cancer as of this report). All together the common variants in these regions explain only a minority of familial risk of these cancers. Using the Illumina HumanExome SNP array, we explored the hypothesis of rare coding variation contributing to breast and prostate cancer risk in a sample of African American, Latino, Japanese, Native Hawaiian, and European American breast and prostate cancer cases and controls from the Multiethnic Cohort study. While only one association exceeded significance thresholds after correcting for multiple comparisons, a number of suggestive associations involving genes previously reported to be associated with a cancer-related phenotype were noted. Our results do not generally support a major role of protein-coding variants with odds ratios over a range that is probably required for protein coding variation to play a truly outstanding role in risk heritability. If very rare and/or less penetrant coding variants underlie disease heritability of these cancers, then very large sample sizes (i.e. consortia) will be required for their discovery.