Systematic evaluation and study of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) made possible by high throughput genotyping technologies and bioinformatics promises to provide breakthroughs in the understanding of complex diseases. Understanding how the millions of SNPs in the human genome are involved in conferring susceptibility or resistance to disease, or in rendering a drug efficacious or toxic in the individual is a major goal of the relatively new fields of pharmacogenomics. Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma is a high-mortality cancer with complex etiology and progression involving both genetic and environmental factors. We examined the association between esophageal cancer risk and patterns of 61 SNPs in a case-control study for a population from Shanxi Province in North Central China that has among the highest rates of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in the world.
High-throughput Masscode mass spectrometry genotyping was done on genomic DNA from 574 individuals (394 cases and 180 age-frequency matched controls). SNPs were chosen from among genes involving DNA repair enzymes, and Phase I and Phase II enzymes.
We developed a novel adaptation of the Decision Forest pattern recognition method named Decision Forest for SNPs (DF-SNPs). The method was designated to analyze the SNP data.
The classifier in separating the cases from the controls developed with DF-SNPs gave concordance, sensitivity and specificity, of 94.7%, 99.0% and 85.1%, respectively; suggesting its usefulness for hypothesizing what SNPs or combinations of SNPs could be involved in susceptibility to esophageal cancer. Importantly, the DF-SNPs algorithm incorporated a randomization test for assessing the relevance (or importance) of individual SNPs, SNP types (Homozygous common, heterozygous and homozygous variant) and patterns of SNP types (SNP patterns) that differentiate cases from controls. For example, we found that the different genotypes of SNP GADD45B E1122 are all associated with cancer risk.
The DF-SNPs method can be used to differentiate esophageal squamous cell carcinoma cases from controls based on individual SNPs, SNP types and SNP patterns. The method could be useful to identify potential biomarkers from the SNP data and complement existing methods for genotype analyses.