Studies of related individuals have consistently demonstrated notable familial aggregation of cancer. We aim to estimate the heritability and genetic correlation attributable to the additive effects of common single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for cancer at 13 anatomical sites.
Between 2007 and 2014, the US National Cancer Institute has generated data from genome-wide association studies (GWAS) for 49 492 cancer case patients and 34 131 control patients. We apply novel mixed model methodology (GCTA) to this GWAS data to estimate the heritability of individual cancers, as well as the proportion of heritability attributable to cigarette smoking in smoking-related cancers, and the genetic correlation between pairs of cancers.
GWAS heritability was statistically significant at nearly all sites, with the estimates of array-based heritability, hl
2, on the liability threshold (LT) scale ranging from 0.05 to 0.38. Estimating the combined heritability of multiple smoking characteristics, we calculate that at least 24% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 14% to 37%) and 7% (95% CI = 4% to 11%) of the heritability for lung and bladder cancer, respectively, can be attributed to genetic determinants of smoking. Most pairs of cancers studied did not show evidence of strong genetic correlation. We found only four pairs of cancers with marginally statistically significant correlations, specifically kidney and testes (ρ = 0.73, SE = 0.28), diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) and pediatric osteosarcoma (ρ = 0.53, SE = 0.21), DLBCL and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) (ρ = 0.51, SE =0.18), and bladder and lung (ρ = 0.35, SE = 0.14). Correlation analysis also indicates that the genetic architecture of lung cancer differs between a smoking population of European ancestry and a nonsmoking Asian population, allowing for the possibility that the genetic etiology for the same disease can vary by population and environmental exposures.
Our results provide important insights into the genetic architecture of cancers and suggest new avenues for investigation.
Background: Populations in north central China are at high risk for oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) and gastric cancer (GC), and genetic variation in epigenetic machinery genes and pathways may contribute to this risk.
Methods: We used the adaptive multilocus joint test to analyse 192 epigenetic genes involved in chromatin remodelling, DNA methylation and microRNA biosynthesis in 1942 ESCC and 1758 GC cases [1126 cardia (GCA) and 632 non-cardia adenocarcinoma (GNCA)] and 2111 controls with Chinese ancestry. We examined potential function of risk alleles using in silico and expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) analyses.
Results: Suggestive pathway-based associations were observed for the overall epigenetic (P-valuePATH = 0.034) and chromatin remodelling (P-valuePATH = 0.039) pathways with risk of GCA, but not GC, GNCA or ESCC. Overall, 37 different epigenetic machinery genes were associated with risk of one or more upper gastrointestinal (UGI) cancer sites (P-valueGENE < 0.05), including 14 chromatin remodelling genes whose products are involved in the regulation of HOX genes. We identified a gastric eQTL (rs12724079; rho = 0.37; P = 0.0006) which regulates mRNA expression of ASH1L. Several suggestive eQTLs were also found in oesophageal (rs10898459 in EED), gastric cardia (rs7157322 in DICER1; rs8179271 in ASH1L), and gastric non-cardia (rs1790733 in PPP1CA) tissues.
Conclusions: Results of our analyses provide limited but suggestive evidence for a role of epigenetic gene variation in the aetiology of UGI cancer.
Epigenetics; chromatin remodelling; DNA methylation; microRNA; oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma; gastric cancer; gastric cardia; gastric non-cardia; SNP; gene-based; pathway-based
To investigate large structural clonal mosaicism of chromosome X, we analysed the SNP microarray intensity data of 38,303 women from cancer genome-wide association studies (20,878 cases and 17,425 controls) and detected 124 mosaic X events >2 Mb in 97 (0.25%) women. Here we show rates for X-chromosome mosaicism are four times higher than mean autosomal rates; X mosaic events more often include the entire chromosome and participants with X events more likely harbour autosomal mosaic events. X mosaicism frequency increases with age (0.11% in 50-year olds; 0.45% in 75-year olds), as reported for Y and autosomes. Methylation array analyses of 33 women with X mosaicism indicate events preferentially involve the inactive X chromosome. Our results provide further evidence that the sex chromosomes undergo mosaic events more frequently than autosomes, which could have implications for understanding the underlying mechanisms of mosaic events and their possible contribution to risk for chronic diseases.
It is unclear how often genetic mosaicism of chromosome X arises. Here, the authors examine women with cancer and cancer-free controls and show that X chromosome mosaicism occurs more frequently than on autosomes, especially on the inactive X chromosome, but is not linked to non-haematologic cancer risk
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a common lymphoid malignancy with strong heritability. To further understand the genetic susceptibility for CLL and identify common loci associated with risk, we conducted a meta-analysis of four genome-wide association studies (GWAS) composed of 3,100 cases and 7,667 controls with follow-up replication in 1,958 cases and 5,530 controls. Here we report three new loci at 3p24.1 (rs9880772, EOMES, P=2.55 × 10−11), 6p25.2 (rs73718779, SERPINB6, P=1.97 × 10−8) and 3q28 (rs9815073, LPP, P=3.62 × 10−8), as well as a new independent SNP at the known 2q13 locus (rs9308731, BCL2L11, P=1.00 × 10−11) in the combined analysis. We find suggestive evidence (P<5 × 10−7) for two additional new loci at 4q24 (rs10028805, BANK1, P=7.19 × 10−8) and 3p22.2 (rs1274963, CSRNP1, P=2.12 × 10−7). Pathway analyses of new and known CLL loci consistently show a strong role for apoptosis, providing further evidence for the importance of this biological pathway in CLL susceptibility.
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is a highly inheritable cancer. Here the authors conduct a metaanalysis of four genome-wide association studies and identify three novel loci located near EOMES, SERPINB6 and LPP associated with risk of this disease.
Metastasis is the leading cause of death in osteosarcoma patients, the most common pediatric bone malignancy. We conducted a multi-stage genome-wide association study of osteosarcoma metastasis at diagnosis in 935 osteosarcoma patients to determine whether germline genetic variation contributes to risk of metastasis. We identified a SNP, rs7034162, in NFIB significantly associated with metastasis in European osteosarcoma cases, as well as in cases of African and Brazilian ancestry (meta-analysis of all cases: P=1.2×10−9, OR 2.43, 95% CI 1.83–3.24). The risk allele was significantly associated with lowered NFIB expression, which led to increased osteosarcoma cell migration, proliferation, and colony formation. Additionally, a transposon screen in mice identified a significant proportion of osteosarcomas harboring inactivating insertions in Nfib, and had lowered Nfib expression. These data suggest that germline genetic variation at rs7034162 is important in osteosarcoma metastasis, and that NFIB is an osteosarcoma metastasis susceptibility gene.
osteosarcoma; metastasis; genome-wide association study
Recent evidence from several relatively small nested case-control studies in prospective cohorts shows an association between longer telomere length measured phenotypically in peripheral white blood cell (WBC) DNA and increased lung cancer risk. We sought to further explore this relationship by examining a panel of 7 telomere-length associated genetic variants in a large study of 5,457 never-smoking female Asian lung cancer cases and 4,493 never-smoking female Asian controls using data from a previously reported genome-wide association study. Using a group of 1,536 individuals with phenotypically measured telomere length in WBCs in the prospective Shanghai Women’s Health study, we demonstrated the utility of a genetic risk score (GRS) of 7 telomere-length associated variants to predict telomere length in an Asian population. We then found that GRSs used as instrumental variables to predict longer telomere length were associated with increased lung cancer risk (OR = 1.51 (95% CI=1.34–1.69) for upper vs. lower quartile of the weighted GRS, P-value=4.54×10−14) even after removing rs2736100 (P-value=4.81×10−3), a SNP in the TERT locus robustly associated with lung cancer risk in prior association studies. Stratified analyses suggested the effect of the telomere-associated GRS is strongest among younger individuals. We found no difference in GRS effect between adenocarcinoma and squamous cell subtypes. Our results indicate that a genetic background that favors longer telomere length may increase lung cancer risk, which is consistent with earlier prospective studies relating longer telomere length with increased lung cancer risk.
association study; genetics; lung cancer; telomere length; genetic risk score
Experimental and epidemiologic investigations suggest that certain pesticides may alter sex steroid hormone synthesis, metabolism or regulation, and the risk of hormone-related cancers. Here, we evaluated whether single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) involved in hormone homeostasis alter the effect of pesticide exposure on prostate cancer risk. We evaluated pesticide–SNP interactions between 39 pesticides and SNPs with respect to prostate cancer among 776 cases and 1,444 controls nested in the Agricultural Health Study cohort. In these interactions, we included candidate SNPs involved in hormone synthesis, metabolism or regulation (N = 1,100), as well as SNPs associated with circulating sex steroid concentrations, as identified by genome-wide association studies (N = 17). Unconditional logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Multiplicative SNP–pesticide interactions were calculated using a likelihood ratio test. We translated p-values for interaction into q-values, which reflected the false discovery rate, to account for multiple comparisons. We observed a significant interaction, which was robust to multiple comparison testing, between the herbicide dicamba and rs8192166 in the testosterone metabolizing gene SRD5A1 (p-interaction = 4.0 × 10−5; q-value = 0.03), such that men with two copies of the wild-type genotype CC had a reduced risk of prostate cancer associated with low use of dicamba (OR = 0.62 95% CI: 0.41, 0.93) and high use of dicamba (OR = 0.44, 95% CI: 0.29, 0.68), compared to those who reported no use of dicamba; in contrast, there was no significant association between dicamba and prostate cancer among those carrying one or two copies of the variant T allele at rs8192166. In addition, interactions between two organophosphate insecticides and SNPs related to estradiol metabolism were observed to result in an increased risk of prostate cancer. While replication is needed, these data suggest both agonistic and antagonistic effects on circulating hormones, due to the combination of exposure to pesticides and genetic susceptibility, may impact prostate cancer risk.
prostate cancer; pesticides; sex steroid hormones; single-nucleotide polymorphism; interaction
Marginal zone lymphoma (MZL) is the third most common subtype of B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Here we perform a two-stage GWAS of 1,281 MZL cases and 7,127 controls of European ancestry and identify two independent loci near BTNL2 (rs9461741, P=3.95×10−15) and HLA-B (rs2922994, P=2.43×10−9) in the HLA region significantly associated with MZL risk. This is the first evidence that genetic variation in the major histocompatibility complex influences MZL susceptibility.
Dietary iron intake and variation in iron homeostasis genes may affect colorectal neoplasia risk. This study examines the interaction of dietary iron intake and genetic variation in iron homeostatic genes on the outcomes of colorectal adenoma and colorectal cancer.
Dietary iron intake and variation in iron homeostasis genes may affect colorectal neoplasia risk. We conducted two nested case–control studies within the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial: one of advanced colorectal adenoma (1205 cases; 1387 controls) and one of colorectal cancer (370 cases; 401 controls). Iron intake was estimated with a food frequency questionnaire and genotyping was performed for 21 genes. Unconditional logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) for colorectal neoplasia risk within quartiles of intake. Several single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) modified the association between iron intake and the risk of adenoma or cancer. Dietary iron was positively associated with colorectal adenoma among three SNPs of HEPHL1, including carriers of the AA genotype at rs7946162 (ORQ4–
Q1 = 2.22, 95% CI 1.15–4.27, P
trend = 0.03; P
interaction = 0.10), the TT genotype at rs2460063 (ORQ4–
Q1 = 2.39, 95% CI 1.26–4.54, P
trend = 0.02; P
interaction = 0.04) and the GG genotype at rs7127348 (ORQ4–
Q1 = 2.40, 95% CI 1.23–4.67, P
trend = 0.02; P
interaction = 0.09). Heme iron was positively associated with colorectal cancer among those with GG genotypes for ACO1 rs10970985 (ORQ4–
1 = 2.45, 95% CI 3.40–8.06, P
trend = 0.004; P
interaction = 0.05). However, none of the associations were statistically significant after adjustment for multiple comparisons. Future studies should target the specific genes and SNPs for which the association was significant prior to multiple comparison correction.
Populations in north central China are at high risk for gastric cancers (GC), and altered FAS-mediated cell signaling and/or apoptosis may contribute to this risk. We examined the association of 554 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 53 Fas signaling-related genes using a pathway-based approach in 1758 GC cases (1126 gastric cardia adenocarcinomas (GCA) and 632 gastric noncardia adenocarcinomas (GNCA)), and 2111 controls from a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of GC in ethnic Chinese. SNP associations with risk of overall GC, GCA and GNCA were evaluated using unconditional logistic regressions controlling for age, sex and study. Gene- and pathway-based associations were tested using the adaptive rank-truncated product (ARTP) method. Statistical significance was evaluated empirically by permutation. Significant pathway-based associations were observed for Fas signaling with risk of overall GC (P = 5.5E-04) and GCA (P = 6.3E-03), but not GNCA (P = 8.1E-02). Among examined genes in the Fas signaling pathway, MAP2K4, FAF1, MAPK8, CASP10, CASP8, CFLAR, MAP2K1, CAP8AP2, PAK2 and IKBKB were associated with risk of GC (nominal P < 0.05), and FAF1 and MAPK8 were significantly associated with risk of both GCA and GNCA (nominal P < 0.05). Our examination of genetic variation in the Fas signaling pathway is consistent with an association of altered Fas signaling and/or apoptosis with risk of GC. As one of the first attempts to investigate a pathway-level association, our results suggest that these genes and the Fas signaling pathway warrant further evaluation in relation to GC risk in other populations.
Gastric cancer; gastric cardia; gastric noncardia; Fas signaling; genetic variants; GWAS; single nucleotide polymorphisms; pathway genes
Marginal zone lymphoma (MZL) is the third most common subtype of B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Here we perform a two-stage GWAS of 1,281 MZL cases and 7,127 controls of European ancestry and identify two independent loci near BTNL2 (rs9461741, P=3.95 × 10−15) and HLA-B (rs2922994, P=2.43 × 10−9) in the HLA region significantly associated with MZL risk. This is the first evidence that genetic variation in the major histocompatibility complex influences MZL susceptibility.
Marginal zone lymphoma (MZL) is a common subtype of B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Here the authors carry out a two-stage genome-wide association study in over 8,000 Europeans and identify two new MZL risk loci at chromosome 6p, implicating the major histocompatibility complex in the disease for the first time.
To identify common genetic variants that contribute to lung cancer susceptibility, we conducted a multistage genome-wide association study of lung cancer in Asian women who never smoked. We scanned 5,510 never-smoking female lung cancer cases and 4,544 controls drawn from 14 studies from mainland China, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. We genotyped the most promising variants (associated at P < 5 × 10-6) in an additional 1,099 cases and 2,913 controls. We identified three new susceptibility loci at 10q25.2 (rs7086803, P = 3.54 × 10-18), 6q22.2 (rs9387478, P = 4.14 × 10-10) and 6p21.32 (rs2395185, P = 9.51 × 10-9). We also confirmed associations reported for loci at 5p15.33 and 3q28 and a recently reported finding at 17q24.3. We observed no evidence of association for lung cancer at 15q25 in never-smoking women in Asia, providing strong evidence that this locus is not associated with lung cancer independent of smoking.
The phagocyte NADPH oxidase catalyzes the reduction of O2 to reactive oxygen species with microbicidal activity. It is composed of two membrane-spanning subunits, gp91-phox and p22-phox (encoded by CYBB and CYBA, respectively), and three cytoplasmic subunits, p40-phox, p47-phox, and p67-phox (encoded by NCF4, NCF1, and NCF2, respectively). Mutations in any of these genes can result in chronic granulomatous disease, a primary immunodeficiency characterized by recurrent infections. Using evolutionary mapping, we determined that episodes of adaptive natural selection have shaped the extracellular portion of gp91-phox during the evolution of mammals, which suggests that this region may have a function in host-pathogen interactions. On the basis of a resequencing analysis of approximately 35 kb of CYBB, CYBA, NCF2, and NCF4 in 102 ethnically diverse individuals (24 of African ancestry, 31 of European ancestry, 24 of Asian/Oceanians, and 23 US Hispanics), we show that the pattern of CYBA diversity is compatible with balancing natural selection, perhaps mediated by catalase-positive pathogens. NCF2 in Asian populations shows a pattern of diversity characterized by a differentiated haplotype structure. Our study provides insight into the role of pathogen-driven natural selection in an innate immune pathway and sheds light on the role of CYBA in endothelial, nonphagocytic NADPH oxidases, which are relevant in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular and other complex diseases.
innate immunity; immunogenetics; chronic granulomatous disease
The DNA repair pathways help to maintain genomic integrity and therefore genetic variation in the pathways could affect the propensity to develop cancer. Selected germline single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the pathways have been associated with esophageal cancer and gastric cancer (GC) but few studies have comprehensively examined the pathway genes. We aimed to investigate associations between DNA repair pathway genes and risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) and GC, using data from a genome-wide association study in a Han Chinese population where ESCC and GC are the predominant cancers. In sum, 1942 ESCC cases, 1758 GC cases and 2111 controls from the Shanxi Upper Gastrointestinal Cancer Genetics Project (discovery set) and the Linxian Nutrition Intervention Trials (replication set) were genotyped for 1675 SNPs in 170 DNA repair-related genes. Logistic regression models were applied to evaluate SNP-level associations. Gene- and pathway-level associations were determined using the resampling-based adaptive rank-truncated product approach. The DNA repair pathways overall were significantly associated with risk of ESCC (P = 6.37 × 10−
4), but not with GC (P = 0.20). The most significant gene in ESCC was CHEK2 (P = 2.00 × 10−
6) and in GC was CLK2 (P = 3.02 × 10−
4). We observed several other genes significantly associated with either ESCC (SMUG1, TDG, TP53, GTF2H3, FEN1, POLQ, HEL308, RAD54B, MPG, FANCE and BRCA1) or GC risk (MRE11A, RAD54L and POLE) (P < 0.05). We provide evidence for an association between specific genes in the DNA repair pathways and the risk of ESCC and GC. Further studies are warranted to validate these associations and to investigate underlying mechanisms.
Dubowitz syndrome is a rare disorder characterized by multiple congenital anomalies, cognitive delay, growth failure, an immune defect, and an increased risk of blood dyscrasia and malignancy. There is considerable phenotypic variability, suggesting genetic heterogeneity. We clinically characterized and performed exome sequencing and high-density array SNP genotyping on three individuals with Dubowitz syndrome, including a pair of previously-described siblings (Patients 1 and 2, brother and sister) and an unpublished patient (Patient 3). Given the siblings' history of bone marrow abnormalities, we also evaluated telomere length and performed radiosensitivity assays. In the siblings, exome sequencing identified compound heterozygosity for a known rare nonsense substitution in the nuclear ligase gene LIG4 (rs104894419, NM_002312.3:c.2440C>T) that predicts p.Arg814X (MAF:0.0002) and an NM_002312.3:c.613delT variant that predicts a p.Ser205Leufs*29 frameshift. The frameshift mutation has not been reported in 1000 Genomes, ESP, or ClinSeq. These LIG4 mutations were previously reported in the sibling sister; her brother had not been previously tested. Western blotting showed an absence of a ligase IV band in both siblings. In the third patient, array SNP genotyping revealed a de novo ∼3.89 Mb interstitial deletion at chromosome 17q24.2 (chr 17:62,068,463–65,963,102, hg18), which spanned the known Carney complex gene PRKAR1A. In all three patients, a median lymphocyte telomere length of ≤1st centile was observed and radiosensitivity assays showed increased sensitivity to ionizing radiation. Our work suggests that, in addition to dyskeratosis congenita, LIG4 and 17q24.2 syndromes also feature shortened telomeres; to confirm this, telomere length testing should be considered in both disorders. Taken together, our work and other reports on Dubowitz syndrome, as currently recognized, suggest that it is not a unitary entity but instead a collection of phenotypically similar disorders. As a clinical entity, Dubowitz syndrome will need continual re-evaluation and re-definition as its constituent phenotypes are determined.
In China, esophageal cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death where essentially all cases are histologically esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), in contrast to esophageal adenocarcinoma in the West. Globally, ESCC is 2.4 times more common among men than women and recently it has been suggested that sex hormones may be associated with the risk of ESCC. We examined the association between genetic variants in sex hormone metabolic genes and ESCC risk in a population from north central China with high-incidence rates. A total of 1026 ESCC cases and 1452 controls were genotyped for 797 unique tag single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 51 sex hormone metabolic genes. SNP-, gene- and pathway-based associations with ESCC risk were evaluated using unconditional logistic regression adjusted for age, sex and geographical location and the adaptive rank truncated product (ARTP) method. Statistical significance was determined through use of permutation for pathway- and gene-based associations. No associations were observed for the overall sex hormone metabolic pathway (P = 0.14) or subpathways (androgen synthesis: P = 0.30, estrogen synthesis: P = 0.15 and estrogen removal: P = 0.19) with risk of ESCC. However, six individual genes (including SULT2B1, CYP1B1, CYP3A7, CYP3A5, SHBG and CYP11A1) were significantly associated with ESCC risk (P < 0.05). Our examination of genetic variation in the sex hormone metabolic pathway is consistent with a potential association with risk of ESCC. These positive findings warrant further evaluation in relation to ESCC risk and replication in other populations.
Dyskeratosis congenita (DC) is an inherited bone marrow failure and cancer predisposition syndrome caused by aberrant telomere biology. The classic triad of dysplastic nails, abnormal skin pigmentation, and oral leukoplakia is diagnostic of DC, but substantial clinical heterogeneity exists; the clinically severe variant Hoyeraal Hreidarsson syndrome (HH) also includes cerebellar hypoplasia, severe immunodeficiency, enteropathy, and intrauterine growth retardation. Germline mutations in telomere biology genes account for approximately one-half of known DC families.
Using exome sequencing, we identified mutations in RTEL1, a helicase with critical telomeric functions, in two families with HH. In the first family, two siblings with HH and very short telomeres inherited a premature stop codon from their mother who has short telomeres. The proband from the second family has HH and inherited a premature stop codon in RTEL1 from his father and a missense mutation from his mother, who also has short telomeres. Additionally, inheritance of only the missense mutation led to very short telomeres in the proband’s brother. Targeted sequencing identified a different RTEL1 missense mutation in one additional DC proband who has bone marrow failure and short telomeres. Both missense mutations affect the helicase domain of RTEL1, and three in silico prediction algorithms suggest that they are likely deleterious. The nonsense mutations both cause truncation of the RTEL1 protein, resulting in loss of the PIP box; this may abrogate an important protein-protein interaction. These findings implicate a new telomere biology gene, RTEL1, in the etiology of DC.
Dyskeratosis congenita; telomere; bone marrow failure; RTEL1; exome sequencing
Bladder cancer results from the combined effects of environmental and genetic factors, smoking being the strongest risk factor. Evaluating absolute risks resulting from the joint effects of smoking and genetic factors is critical to evaluate the public health relevance of genetic information. Analyses included up to 3,942 cases and 5,680 controls of European background in seven studies. We tested for multiplicative and additive interactions between smoking and 12 susceptibility loci, individually and combined as a polygenic risk score (PRS). Thirty-year absolute risks and risk differences by levels of the PRS were estimated for US-males aged 50-years. Six out of 12 variants showed significant additive gene-environment interactions, most notably NAT2 (P=7×10-4) and UGT1A6 (P=8×10-4). The 30-year absolute risk of bladder cancer in US males was 6.2% for all current smokers. This risk ranged from 2.9% for current smokers in the lowest quartile of the PRS to 9.9% for current smokers in the upper quartile. Risk difference estimates indicated that 8,200 cases would be prevented if elimination of smoking occurred in 100,000 men in the upper PRS quartile, compared to 2,000 cases prevented by a similar effort in the lowest PRS quartile (P-additive =1×10-4). The impact of eliminating smoking the on number of bladder cancer cases prevented is larger for individuals at higher than lower genetic risk. Our findings could have implications for targeted prevention strategies. However, other smoking-related diseases, as well as practical and ethical considerations, need to be considered before any recommendations could be made.
We conducted a genome-wide association study of gastric cancer (GC) and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) in ethnic Chinese subjects in which we genotyped 551,152 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). We report a combined analysis of 2,240 GC cases, 2,115 ESCC cases, and 3,302 controls drawn from five studies. In logistic regression models adjusted for age, sex, and study, multiple variants at 10q23 had genome-wide significance for GC and ESCC independently. A notable signal was rs2274223, a nonsynonymous SNP located in PLCE1, for GC (P=8.40×1010; per allele odds ratio (OR) = 1.31) and ESCC (P=3.85×10−9; OR = 1.34). The association with GC differed by anatomic subsite. For tumors located in the cardia the association was stronger (P=4.19 × 10−15; OR= 1.57) and for those located in the noncardia stomach it was absent (P=0.44; OR=1.05). Our findings at 10q23 could provide insight into the high incidence rates of both cancers in China.
Dyskeratosis congenita (DC) is a heterogeneous inherited bone marrow failure and cancer predisposition syndrome in which germline mutations in telomere biology genes account for approximately one-half of known families. Hoyeraal Hreidarsson syndrome (HH) is a clinically severe variant of DC in which patients also have cerebellar hypoplasia and may present with severe immunodeficiency and enteropathy. We discovered a germline autosomal recessive mutation in RTEL1, a helicase with critical telomeric functions, in two unrelated families of Ashkenazi Jewish (AJ) ancestry. The affected individuals in these families are homozygous for the same mutation, R1264H, which affects three isoforms of RTEL1. Each parent was a heterozygous carrier of one mutant allele. Patient-derived cell lines revealed evidence of telomere dysfunction, including significantly decreased telomere length, telomere length heterogeneity, and the presence of extra-chromosomal circular telomeric DNA. In addition, RTEL1 mutant cells exhibited enhanced sensitivity to the interstrand cross-linking agent mitomycin C. The molecular data and the patterns of inheritance are consistent with a hypomorphic mutation in RTEL1 as the underlying basis of the clinical and cellular phenotypes. This study further implicates RTEL1 in the etiology of DC/HH and immunodeficiency, and identifies the first known homozygous autosomal recessive disease-associated mutation in RTEL1.
Patients with dyskeratosis congenita (DC), a rare inherited disease, are at very high risk of developing cancer and bone marrow failure. The clinical features of DC include nail abnormalities, skin discoloration, and white spots in the mouth. Patients with Hoyeraal-Hreidarsson syndrome (HH) have symptoms of DC plus cerebellar hypoplasia, immunodeficiency, and poor prenatal growth. DC and HH are caused by defects in telomere biology; improperly maintained telomeres are thought to be a major contributor to carcinogenesis. In half the cases of DC, the causative mutation is unknown. By studying families affected by DC for whom a causative mutation has not yet been identified, we have discovered a homozygous germline mutation in RTEL1, a telomere maintenance gene that, if mutated, can result in HH. The mutations result in the inability of the RTEL1 protein to function properly at the telomere, and underscore its important role in telomere biology.
The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling pathway regulates cell proliferation, differentiation, and survival, and is frequently dysregulated in esophageal and gastric cancers. Few studies have comprehensively examined the association between germline genetic variants in the EGFR pathway and risk of esophageal and gastric cancers. Based on a genome-wide association study in a Han Chinese population, we examined 3443 SNPs in 127 genes in the EGFR pathway for 1942 esophageal squamous cell carcinomas (ESCCs), 1758 gastric cancers (GCs), and 2111 controls. SNP-level analyses were conducted using logistic regression models. We applied the resampling-based adaptive rank truncated product approach to determine the gene- and pathway-level associations. The EGFR pathway was significantly associated with GC risk (P = 2.16×10−3). Gene-level analyses found 10 genes to be associated with GC, including FYN, MAPK8, MAP2K4, GNAI3, MAP2K1, TLN1, PRLR, PLCG2, RPS6KB2, and PIK3R3 (P<0.05). For ESCC, we did not observe a significant pathway-level association (P = 0.72), but gene-level analyses suggested associations between GNAI3, CHRNE, PAK4, WASL, and ITCH, and ESCC (P<0.05). Our data suggest an association between specific genes in the EGFR signaling pathway and risk of GC and ESCC. Further studies are warranted to validate these associations and to investigate underlying mechanisms.
Genome-wide association studies have identified susceptibility loci for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). We conducted a meta-analysis of all single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that showed nominally significant P-values in two previously published genome-wide scans that included a total of 2961 ESCC cases and 3400 controls. The meta-analysis revealed five SNPs at 2q33 with P< 5 × 10−8, and the strongest signal was rs13016963, with a combined odds ratio (95% confidence interval) of 1.29 (1.19–1.40) and P= 7.63 × 10−10. An imputation analysis of 4304 SNPs at 2q33 suggested a single association signal, and the strongest imputed SNP associations were similar to those from the genotyped SNPs. We conducted an ancestral recombination graph analysis with 53 SNPs to identify one or more haplotypes that harbor the variants directly responsible for the detected association signal. This showed that the five SNPs exist in a single haplotype along with 45 imputed SNPs in strong linkage disequilibrium, and the strongest candidate was rs10201587, one of the genotyped SNPs. Our meta-analysis found genome-wide significant SNPs at 2q33 that map to the CASP8/ALS2CR12/TRAK2 gene region. Variants in CASP8 have been extensively studied across a spectrum of cancers with mixed results. The locus we identified appears to be distinct from the widely studied rs3834129 and rs1045485 SNPs in CASP8. Future studies of esophageal and other cancers should focus on comprehensive sequencing of this 2q33 locus and functional analysis of rs13016963 and rs10201587 and other strongly correlated variants.
A recent genome-wide association study of bladder cancer identified the UGT1A gene cluster on chromosome 2q37.1 as a novel susceptibility locus. The UGT1A cluster encodes a family of UDP-glucuronosyltransferases (UGTs), which facilitate cellular detoxification and removal of aromatic amines. Bioactivated forms of aromatic amines found in tobacco smoke and industrial chemicals are the main risk factors for bladder cancer. The association within the UGT1A locus was detected by a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs11892031. Now, we performed detailed resequencing, imputation and genotyping in this region. We clarified the original genetic association detected by rs11892031 and identified an uncommon SNP rs17863783 that explained and strengthened the association in this region (allele frequency 0.014 in 4035 cases and 0.025 in 5284 controls, OR = 0.55, 95%CI = 0.44–0.69, P = 3.3 × 10−7). Rs17863783 is a synonymous coding variant Val209Val within the functional UGT1A6.1 splicing form, strongly expressed in the liver, kidney and bladder. We found the protective T allele of rs17863783 to be associated with increased mRNA expression of UGT1A6.1 in in-vitro exontrap assays and in human liver tissue samples. We suggest that rs17863783 may protect from bladder cancer by increasing the removal of carcinogens from bladder epithelium by the UGT1A6.1 protein. Our study shows an example of genetic and functional role of an uncommon protective genetic variant in a complex human disease, such as bladder cancer.
Uncovering SNP (single nucleotide polymorphisms)-environment interactions can generate new hypotheses about the function of poorly characterized genetic variants and environmental factors, like pesticides. We evaluated SNP-environment interactions between 30 confirmed prostate cancer susceptibility loci and 45 pesticides and prostate cancer risk in 776 cases and 1,444 controls in the Agricultural Health Study. We used unconditional logistic regression to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Multiplicative SNP-pesticide interactions were calculated using a likelihood ratio test. After correction for multiple tests using the False Discovery Rate method, two interactions remained noteworthy. Among men carrying two T alleles at rs2710647 in EH domain binding protein 1 (EHBP1) SNP, the risk of prostate cancer in those with high malathion use was 3.43 times those with no use (95% CI: 1.44–8.15) (P-interaction = 0.003). Among men carrying two A alleles at rs7679673 in TET2, the risk of prostate cancer associated with high aldrin use was 3.67 times those with no use (95% CI: 1.43, 9.41) (P-interaction = 0.006). In contrast, associations were null for other genotypes. Although additional studies are needed and the exact mechanisms are unknown, this study suggests known genetic susceptibility loci may modify the risk between pesticide use and prostate cancer.