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1.  MC1R genotypes and risk of melanoma before age 40 years: a population-based case-control-family study 
The contribution of melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) gene variants to the development of early-onset melanoma is unknown. Using an Australian population-based, case-control-family study, we sequenced MC1R for 565 cases with invasive cutaneous melanoma diagnosed between ages 18–39 years, 409 unrelated controls and 518 sibling controls. Variants were classified a priori into `R' variants (D84E, R142H, R151C, I155T, R160W, D294H) and `r' variants (all other nonsynonymous variants). We estimated odds ratios (OR) for melanoma using unconditional (unrelated controls) and conditional (sibling controls) logistic regression. The prevalence of having at least one R or r variant was 86% for cases, 73% for unrelated controls and 81% for sibling controls. R151C conferred the highest risk (per allele OR 2.57, 95% confidence interval 1.86–3.56 for the case-unrelated-control analysis and 1.70 (1.12–2.60) for the case-sibling-control analysis). When mutually adjusted, the ORs per R allele were 2.23 (1.77–2.80) and 2.06 (1.47–2.88), respectively from the two types of analysis, and the ORs per r allele were 1.69 (1.33–2.13) and 1.25 (0.88–1.79), respectively. The associations were stronger for men and those with none or few nevi or with high childhood sun exposure. Adjustment for phenotype, nevi and sun exposure attenuated the overall log OR for R variants by approximately 18%, but had lesser influence on r variant risk estimates. MC1R variants explained about 21% of the familial aggregation of melanoma. Some MC1R variants are important determinants of early-onset melanoma. The strength of association with melanoma differs according to the type and number of variants.
PMCID: PMC4330189  PMID: 22095472
MC1R; melanoma; early-onset; phenotype; nevi; sun exposure
2.  Tamoxifen and Risk of Contralateral Breast Cancer for BRCA1 and BRCA2 Mutation Carriers 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2013;31(25):3091-3099.
To determine whether adjuvant tamoxifen treatment for breast cancer (BC) is associated with reduced contralateral breast cancer (CBC) risk for BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 mutation carriers.
Analysis of pooled observational cohort data, self-reported at enrollment and at follow-up from the International BRCA1, and BRCA2 Carrier Cohort Study, Kathleen Cuningham Foundation Consortium for Research into Familial Breast Cancer, and Breast Cancer Family Registry. Eligible women were BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers diagnosed with unilateral BC since 1970 and no other invasive cancer or tamoxifen use before first BC. Hazard ratios (HRs) for CBC associated with tamoxifen use were estimated using Cox regression, adjusting for year and age of diagnosis, country, and bilateral oophorectomy and censoring at contralateral mastectomy, death, or loss to follow-up.
Of 1,583 BRCA1 and 881 BRCA2 mutation carriers, 383 (24%) and 454 (52%), respectively, took tamoxifen after first BC diagnosis. There were 520 CBCs over 20,104 person-years of observation. The adjusted HR estimates were 0.38 (95% CI, 0.27 to 0.55) and 0.33 (95% CI, 0.22 to 0.50) for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers, respectively. After left truncating at recruitment to the cohort, adjusted HR estimates were 0.58 (95% CI, 0.29 to 1.13) and 0.48 (95% CI, 0.22 to 1.05) based on 657 BRCA1 and 426 BRCA2 mutation carriers with 100 CBCs over 4,392 person-years of prospective follow-up. HRs did not differ by estrogen receptor status of the first BC (missing for 56% of cases).
This study provides evidence that tamoxifen use is associated with a reduction in CBC risk for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers. Further follow-up of these cohorts will provide increased statistical power for future prospective analyses.
PMCID: PMC3753701  PMID: 23918944
3.  Trans-ethnic genome-wide association study of colorectal cancer identifies a new susceptibility locus in VTI1A 
Nature communications  2014;5:4613.
The genetic basis of sporadic colorectal cancer (CRC) is not well explained by known risk polymorphisms. Here we perform a meta-analysis of two genome-wide association studies in 2,627 cases and 3,797 controls of Japanese ancestry and 1,894 cases and 4,703 controls of African ancestry, to identify genetic variants that contribute to CRC susceptibility. We replicate genome-wide statistically significant associations (P < 5×10−8) in 16,823 cases and 18,211 controls of European ancestry. This study reveals a new pan-ethnic CRC risk locus at 10q25 (rs12241008, intronic to VTI1A; P=1.4×10−9), providing additional insight into the etiology of CRC and highlighting the value of association mapping in diverse populations.
PMCID: PMC4180879  PMID: 25105248
4.  Rare mutations in RINT1 predispose carriers to breast and Lynch Syndrome-spectrum cancers 
Cancer discovery  2014;4(7):804-815.
Approximately half of the familial aggregation of breast cancer remains unexplained. A multiple-case breast cancer family exome sequencing study identified three likely pathogenic mutations in RINT1 (NM_021930.4) not present in public sequencing databases: RINT1 c.343C>T (p.Q115X), c.1132_1134del (p.M378del) and c.1207G>T (p.D403Y). Based on this finding, a population-based case-control mutation-screening study was conducted and identified 29 carriers of rare (MAF < 0.5%), likely pathogenic variants: 23 in 1,313 early-onset breast cancer cases and 6 in 1,123 frequency-matched controls (OR=3.24, 95%CI 1.29-8.17; p=0.013). RINT1 mutation screening of probands from 798 multiple-case breast cancer families identified 4additional carriers of rare genetic variants. Analysis of the incidence of first primary cancers in families of women in RINT1-mutation carrying families estimated that carriers were at increased risks of Lynch syndrome-spectrum cancers (SIR 3.35, 95% CI 1.7-6.0; P=0.005), particularly for relatives diagnosed with cancer under age 60 years (SIR 10.9, 95%CI 4.7-21; P=0.0003).
PMCID: PMC4234633  PMID: 25050558
Breast Cancer; RINT1; Lynch Syndrome; Genetic Susceptibility
5.  Using SNP genotypes to improve the discrimination of a simple breast cancer risk prediction model 
It has been shown that, for women aged 50 years or older, the discriminatory accuracy of the Breast Cancer Risk Prediction Tool (BCRAT) can be modestly improved by the inclusion of information on common single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that are associated with increased breast cancer risk. We aimed to determine whether a similar improvement is seen for earlier onset disease. We used the Australian Breast Cancer Family Registry to study a population-based sample of 962 cases aged 35 to 59 years and 463 controls frequency matched for age and for whom genotyping data was available.
Overall, the inclusion of data on seven SNPs improved the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) from 0.58 (95% confidence interval [CI]=0.55–0.61) for BCRAT alone to 0.61 (95% CI=0.58–0.64) for BCRAT and SNP data combined (p<0.001). For women aged 35 to 39 years at interview, the corresponding improvement in AUC was from 0.61 (95% CI=0.56–0.66) to 0.65 (95% CI=0.60–0.70; p=0.03), while for women aged 40 to 49 years at diagnosis, the AUC improved from 0.61 (95% CI=0.55–0.66) to 0.63 (95% CI=0.57–0.69; p=0.04). Using previously used classifications of low, intermediate and high risk, 2.1% of cases and none of the controls aged 35 to 39 years, and 10.9% of cases and 4.0% of controls aged 40 to 49 years were classified into a higher risk group.
Including information on seven SNPs associated with breast cancer risk improves the discriminatory accuracy of BCRAT for women aged 35 to 39 years and 40 to 49 years. Given the low absolute risk for women in these age groups, only a small proportion are reclassified into a higher category for predicted 5-year risk of breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC4059776  PMID: 23774992
Breast cancer; risk prediction; single nucleotide polymorphism; Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool
6.  MicroRNA Related Polymorphisms and Breast Cancer Risk 
Khan, Sofia | Greco, Dario | Michailidou, Kyriaki | Milne, Roger L. | Muranen, Taru A. | Heikkinen, Tuomas | Aaltonen, Kirsimari | Dennis, Joe | Bolla, Manjeet K. | Liu, Jianjun | Hall, Per | Irwanto, Astrid | Humphreys, Keith | Li, Jingmei | Czene, Kamila | Chang-Claude, Jenny | Hein, Rebecca | Rudolph, Anja | Seibold, Petra | Flesch-Janys, Dieter | Fletcher, Olivia | Peto, Julian | dos Santos Silva, Isabel | Johnson, Nichola | Gibson, Lorna | Aitken, Zoe | Hopper, John L. | Tsimiklis, Helen | Bui, Minh | Makalic, Enes | Schmidt, Daniel F. | Southey, Melissa C. | Apicella, Carmel | Stone, Jennifer | Waisfisz, Quinten | Meijers-Heijboer, Hanne | Adank, Muriel A. | van der Luijt, Rob B. | Meindl, Alfons | Schmutzler, Rita K. | Müller-Myhsok, Bertram | Lichtner, Peter | Turnbull, Clare | Rahman, Nazneen | Chanock, Stephen J. | Hunter, David J. | Cox, Angela | Cross, Simon S. | Reed, Malcolm W. R. | Schmidt, Marjanka K. | Broeks, Annegien | Veer, Laura J. V. a. n't. | Hogervorst, Frans B. | Fasching, Peter A. | Schrauder, Michael G. | Ekici, Arif B. | Beckmann, Matthias W. | Bojesen, Stig E. | Nordestgaard, Børge G. | Nielsen, Sune F. | Flyger, Henrik | Benitez, Javier | Zamora, Pilar M. | Perez, Jose I. A. | Haiman, Christopher A. | Henderson, Brian E. | Schumacher, Fredrick | Le Marchand, Loic | Pharoah, Paul D. P. | Dunning, Alison M. | Shah, Mitul | Luben, Robert | Brown, Judith | Couch, Fergus J. | Wang, Xianshu | Vachon, Celine | Olson, Janet E. | Lambrechts, Diether | Moisse, Matthieu | Paridaens, Robert | Christiaens, Marie-Rose | Guénel, Pascal | Truong, Thérèse | Laurent-Puig, Pierre | Mulot, Claire | Marme, Frederick | Burwinkel, Barbara | Schneeweiss, Andreas | Sohn, Christof | Sawyer, Elinor J. | Tomlinson, Ian | Kerin, Michael J. | Miller, Nicola | Andrulis, Irene L. | Knight, Julia A. | Tchatchou, Sandrine | Mulligan, Anna Marie | Dörk, Thilo | Bogdanova, Natalia V. | Antonenkova, Natalia N. | Anton-Culver, Hoda | Darabi, Hatef | Eriksson, Mikael | Garcia-Closas, Montserrat | Figueroa, Jonine | Lissowska, Jolanta | Brinton, Louise | Devilee, Peter | Tollenaar, Robert A. E. M. | Seynaeve, Caroline | van Asperen, Christi J. | Kristensen, Vessela N. | Slager, Susan | Toland, Amanda E. | Ambrosone, Christine B. | Yannoukakos, Drakoulis | Lindblom, Annika | Margolin, Sara | Radice, Paolo | Peterlongo, Paolo | Barile, Monica | Mariani, Paolo | Hooning, Maartje J. | Martens, John W. M. | Collée, J. Margriet | Jager, Agnes | Jakubowska, Anna | Lubinski, Jan | Jaworska-Bieniek, Katarzyna | Durda, Katarzyna | Giles, Graham G. | McLean, Catriona | Brauch, Hiltrud | Brüning, Thomas | Ko, Yon-Dschun | Brenner, Hermann | Dieffenbach, Aida Karina | Arndt, Volker | Stegmaier, Christa | Swerdlow, Anthony | Ashworth, Alan | Orr, Nick | Jones, Michael | Simard, Jacques | Goldberg, Mark S. | Labrèche, France | Dumont, Martine | Winqvist, Robert | Pylkäs, Katri | Jukkola-Vuorinen, Arja | Grip, Mervi | Kataja, Vesa | Kosma, Veli-Matti | Hartikainen, Jaana M. | Mannermaa, Arto | Hamann, Ute | Chenevix-Trench, Georgia | Blomqvist, Carl | Aittomäki, Kristiina | Easton, Douglas F. | Nevanlinna, Heli
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e109973.
Genetic variations, such as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in microRNAs (miRNA) or in the miRNA binding sites may affect the miRNA dependent gene expression regulation, which has been implicated in various cancers, including breast cancer, and may alter individual susceptibility to cancer. We investigated associations between miRNA related SNPs and breast cancer risk. First we evaluated 2,196 SNPs in a case-control study combining nine genome wide association studies (GWAS). Second, we further investigated 42 SNPs with suggestive evidence for association using 41,785 cases and 41,880 controls from 41 studies included in the Breast Cancer Association Consortium (BCAC). Combining the GWAS and BCAC data within a meta-analysis, we estimated main effects on breast cancer risk as well as risks for estrogen receptor (ER) and age defined subgroups. Five miRNA binding site SNPs associated significantly with breast cancer risk: rs1045494 (odds ratio (OR) 0.92; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.88–0.96), rs1052532 (OR 0.97; 95% CI: 0.95–0.99), rs10719 (OR 0.97; 95% CI: 0.94–0.99), rs4687554 (OR 0.97; 95% CI: 0.95–0.99, and rs3134615 (OR 1.03; 95% CI: 1.01–1.05) located in the 3′ UTR of CASP8, HDDC3, DROSHA, MUSTN1, and MYCL1, respectively. DROSHA belongs to miRNA machinery genes and has a central role in initial miRNA processing. The remaining genes are involved in different molecular functions, including apoptosis and gene expression regulation. Further studies are warranted to elucidate whether the miRNA binding site SNPs are the causative variants for the observed risk effects.
PMCID: PMC4229095  PMID: 25390939
7.  Genetic Predictors of Circulating 25-Hydroxyvitamin D and Risk of Colorectal Cancer 
Experimental evidence has demonstrated an anti-neoplastic role for vitamin D in the colon and higher circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) levels are consistently associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer (CRC). Genome-wide association studies have identified loci associated with levels of circulating 25(OH)D. The identified SNPs from four gene regions, collectively explain approximately 5% of the variance in circulating 25(OH)D.
We investigated whether six polymorphisms in GC, CYP2R1, CYP24A1 and DHCR7/NADSYN1, genes previously shown to be associated with circulating 25(OH)D levels, were associated with CRC risk in 10,061 cases and 12,768 controls drawn from 13 studies included in the Genetics and Epidemiology of Colorectal Cancer Consortium (GECCO) and Colon Cancer Family Registry (CCFR). We performed a meta-analysis of crude and multivariate-adjusted logistic regression models to calculate odds ratios and associated confidence intervals for SNPs individually, SNPs simultaneously, and for a vitamin D additive genetic risk score (GRS).
We did not observe a statistically significant association between the 25(OH)D associated SNPs and CRC marginally, conditionally, or as a GRS, or for colon or rectal cancer separately or combined.
Our findings do not support an association between SNPs associated with circulating 25(OH)D and risk of CRC. Additional work is warranted to investigate the complex relationship between 25(OH)D and CRC risk.
There was no association observed between genetic markers of circulating 25(OH)D and CRC. These genetic markers account for a small proportion of the variance in 25(OH)D.
PMCID: PMC3818310  PMID: 23983240
8.  Genetic Variation in the Inflammation and Innate Immunity Pathways and Colorectal Cancer Risk 
It is widely accepted that chronic inflammation plays a role in the etiology of colorectal cancer. Using a two-stage design, we examined the associations between colorectal cancer and common variation in 37 key genes in the inflammation and innate immunity pathways.
In the discovery stage, 2,322 discordant sibships (2,535 cases, 3,915 sibling controls) from the Colorectal Cancer Family Registry were genotyped for over 600 tagSNPs and 99 SNPs were selected for further examination based on strength of association. In the second stage, 351 SNPs tagging gene regions covered by the 99 SNPs were tested in 4,783 Multiethnic Cohort subjects (2,153 cases, 2,630 controls).
The association between rs9858822 in the PPARG gene and colorectal cancer was statistically significant at the end of the second stage (odds ratio per allele = 1.36, Bonferroni-adjusted P = 0.045), based on the “effective” number of markers in Stage 2 (n = 306). The risk allele C was common (frequency 0.3) in African Americans but rare (frequency < 0.03) in whites, Japanese Americans, Latinos and Native Hawaiians. No statistically significant heterogeneity of effects across race/ethnicity, BMI levels, regular aspirin use or pack-years of smoking was detected for this SNP. Suggestive associations were also observed for several SNPs in close vicinity to rs9858822.
Our results provide new evidence of association between PPARG variants and colorectal cancer risk.
Further replication in independent samples is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3836607  PMID: 24045924
pathway approach; inflammation; colorectal cancer; minority population; immunity
9.  Lynch Syndrome-Associated Breast Cancers Do Not Overexpress Chromosome 11 Encoded Mucins 
Mismatch repair (MMR) deficient breast cancers may be identified in Lynch syndrome mutation carriers, and have clinicopathological features in common with MMR deficient colorectal and endometrial cancers such as tumour infiltrating lymphocytes and poor differentiation. MMR deficient colorectal cancers frequently show mucinous differentiation associated with upregulation of chromosome 11 mucins. The aim of this study was to compare the protein expression of these mucins in MMR deficient and MMR proficient breast cancers.
Cases of breast cancer (n = 100) were identified from families where 1) both breast and colon cancer co-occurred, 2) families met either modified Amsterdam criteria, or had at least one early onset (<50 years) colorectal cancer, and 3) biospecimens were available for MMR protein expression, microsatellite instability (MSI) status, and MMR gene mutation testing. Tumour sections were stained for the epithelial mucins MUC2, MUC5AC, MUC5B, and MUC6, and the homeobox protein CDX2, a regulator of MUC2 expression.
Sixteen MMR deficient Lynch syndrome breast cancers and 84 non-Lynch breast cancers were assessed for altered mucin expression. No significant difference in the expression of MUC2, MUC5AC or MUC6 was observed between the MMR deficient and MMR proficient breast cancers, however, there was a trend for MMR deficient tumours to express high levels of MUC5B less frequently (p = 0.07, OR = 0.2 [0.0 – 1.0]. Co-expression of two or more gel-forming mucins was common. Ectopic expression of CDX2 was associated with expression of MUC2 (p = 0.035, OR = 8.7 [1.3 – 58.4]).
MMR deficient breast cancers do not show differential expression of the mucins genes on chromosome 11 when compared to MMR proficient breast cancers, contrasting with MMR deficient colorectal and endometrial cancers which frequently have increased mucin protein expression when compared to their MMR proficient counterparts. In addition, ectopic CDX2 expression is positively associated with de novo MUC2 expression.
PMCID: PMC4204018  PMID: 23370770
Breast cancer; microsatellite instability; mucin; Lynch syndrome
10.  BRAFV600E immunohistochemistry facilitates universal screening of colorectal cancers for Lynch Syndrome 
BRAFV600E mutation in microsatellite unstable (MSI) CRCs virtually excludes Lynch Syndrome (LS). In microsatellite stable (MSS) CRC it predicts poor prognosis. We propose a universal CRC LS screening algorithm using concurrent reflex immunohistochemistry (IHC) for BRAFV600E and MMR proteins. We compared BRAFV600E IHC to multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and MALDI-TOF spectrometry in 216 consecutive CRCs from 2011. Discordant cases were resolved with rt-PCR. BRAFV600E IHC was performed on 51 CRCs from the Australasian Colorectal Cancer Family Registry (ACCFR) which were fully characterised for BRAF mutation by allele-specific PCR, MMR status (MMR IHC and MSI), MLH1 promoter methylation and germline MLH1 mutation. We then assessed MMR and BRAFV600E IHC on 1403 consecutive CRCs.
By MALDI-TOF 15 cases did not yield a BRAF result, while 38/201(19%) were positive. By IHC 45/216(20%) were positive. Of the 7 discordant cases, rt-PCR confirmed the IHC result in 6. In the 51 CRCs from the ACCFR, IHC was concordant with allele-specific PCR in 50 cases. BRAFV600E and MSI IHC on 1403 CRCs demonstrated the following phenotypes: BRAF-ve/MSS (1029 cases,73%), BRAF+ve/MSS (98,7%), BRAF+ve/MSI (183,13%), and BRAF-ve/MSI (93,7%). All 11/1403 cancers associated with proven LS were BRAF-ve/MSI.
We conclude that BRAF IHC is highly concordant with two commonly used PCR-based BRAFV600E assays, performed well in identifying MLH1 mutation carriers from the ACCFR and identified all cases of proven LS out of 1403 CRCs. Reflex BRAFV600E and MMR IHC are simple cheap tests which facilitate universal LS screening and identify the poor prognosis BRAFV600E mutant MSS CRC phenotype.
PMCID: PMC3773060  PMID: 23797718
11.  A three-protein biomarker panel assessed in diagnostic tissue predicts death from prostate cancer for men with localized disease 
Cancer Medicine  2014;3(5):1266-1274.
Only a minority of prostate cancers lead to death. Because no tissue biomarkers of aggressiveness other than Gleason score are available at diagnosis, many nonlethal cancers are treated aggressively. We evaluated whether a panel of biomarkers, associated with a range of disease outcomes in previous studies, could predict death from prostate cancer for men with localized disease. Using a case-only design, subjects were identified from three Australian epidemiological studies. Men who had died of their disease, “cases” (N = 83), were matched to “referents” (N = 232), those who had not died of prostate cancer, using incidence density sampling. Diagnostic tissue was retrieved to assess expression of AZGP1, MUC1, NKX3.1, p53, and PTEN by semiquantitative immunohistochemistry (IHC). Poisson regression was used to estimate mortality rate ratios (MRRs) adjusted for age, Gleason score, and stage and to estimate survival probabilities. Expression of MUC1 and p53 was associated with increased mortality (MRR 2.51, 95% CI 1.14–5.54, P = 0.02 and 3.08, 95% CI 1.41–6.95, P = 0.005, respectively), whereas AZGP1 expression was associated with decreased mortality (MRR 0.44, 95% CI 0.20–0.96, P = 0.04). Analyzing all markers under a combined model indicated that the three markers were independent predictors of prostate cancer death and survival. For men with localized disease at diagnosis, assessment of AZGP1, MUC1, and p53 expression in diagnostic tissue by IHC could potentially improve estimates of risk of dying from prostate cancer based only on Gleason score and clinical stage.
PMCID: PMC4302676  PMID: 24909936
AZGP1; immunohistochemistry; MUC1; NKX3.1; p53; prognostic markers; prostate cancer-specific death
12.  Confirmation of 5p12 as a susceptibility locus for progesterone-receptor-positive, lower grade breast cancer 
Milne, Roger L. | Goode, Ellen L. | García-Closas, Montserrat | Couch, Fergus J. | Severi, Gianluca | Hein, Rebecca | Fredericksen, Zachary | Malats, Núria | Zamora, M. Pilar | Pérez, Jose Ignacio Arias | Benítez, Javier | Dörk, Thilo | Schürmann, Peter | Karstens, Johann H. | Hillemanns, Peter | Cox, Angela | Brock, Ian W. | Elliot, Graeme | Cross, Simon S. | Seal, Sheila | Turnbull, Clare | Renwick, Anthony | Rahman, Nazneen | Shen, Chen-Yang | Yu, Jyh-Cherng | Huang, Chiun-Sheng | Hou, Ming-Feng | Nordestgaard, Børge G. | Bojesen, Stig E. | Lanng, Charlotte | Alnæs, Grethe Grenaker | Kristensen, Vessela | Børrensen-Dale, Anne-Lise | Hopper, John L. | Dite, Gillian S. | Apicella, Carmel | Southey, Melissa C. | Lambrechts, Diether | Yesilyurt, Betül T. | Floris, Giuseppe | Leunen, Karin | Sangrajrang, Suleeporn | Gaborieau, Valerie | Brennan, Paul | McKay, James | Chang-Claude, Jenny | Wang-Gohrke, Shan | Radice, Paolo | Peterlongo, Paolo | Manoukian, Siranoush | Barile, Monica | Giles, Graham G. | Baglietto, Laura | John, Esther M. | Miron, Alexander | Chanock, Stephen J. | Lissowska, Jolanta | Sherman, Mark E. | Figueroa, Jonine D. | Bogdanova, Natalia V. | Antonenkova, Natalia N. | Zalutsky, Iosif V. | Rogov, Yuri I. | Fasching, Peter A. | Bayer, Christian M. | Ekici, Arif B. | Beckmann, Matthias W. | Brenner, Hermann | Müller, Heiko | Arndt, Volker | Stegmaier, Christa | Andrulis, Irene L. | Knight, Julia A. | Glendon, Gord | Mulligan, Anna Marie | Mannermaa, Arto | Kataja, Vesa | Kosma, Veli-Matti | Hartikainen, Jaana M. | Meindl, Alfons | Heil, Joerg | Bartram, Claus R. | Schmutzler, Rita K. | Thomas, Gilles D. | Hoover, Robert N. | Fletcher, Olivia | Gibson, Lorna J. | Silva, Isabel dos Santos | Peto, Julian | Nickels, Stefan | Flesch-Janys, Dieter | Anton-Culver, Hoda | Ziogas, Argyrios | Sawyer, Elinor | Tomlinson, Ian | Kerin, Michael | Miller, Nicola | Schmidt, Marjanka K. | Broeks, Annegien | Van ‘t Veer, Laura J. | Tollenaar, Rob A.E.M. | Pharoah, Paul D.P. | Dunning, Alison M. | Pooley, Karen A. | Marme, Frederik | Schneeweiss, Andreas | Sohn, Christof | Burwinkel, Barbara | Jakubowska, Anna | Lubinski, Jan | Jaworska, Katarzyna | Durda, Katarzyna | Kang, Daehee | Yoo, Keun-Young | Noh, Dong-Young | Ahn, Sei-Hyun | Hunter, David J. | Hankinson, Susan E. | Kraft, Peter | Lindstrom, Sara | Chen, Xiaoqing | Beesley, Jonathan | Hamann, Ute | Harth, Volker | Justenhoven, Christina | Winqvist, Robert | Pylkäs, Katri | Jukkola-Vuorinen, Arja | Grip, Mervi | Hooning, Maartje | Hollestelle, Antoinette | Oldenburg, Rogier A. | Tilanus-Linthorst, Madeleine | Khusnutdinova, Elza | Bermisheva, Marina | Prokofieva, Darya | Farahtdinova, Albina | Olson, Janet E. | Wang, Xianshu | Humphreys, Manjeet K. | Wang, Qin | Chenevix-Trench, Georgia | Easton, Douglas F.
The single nucleotide polymorphism 5p12-rs10941679has been found to be associated with risk of breast cancer, particularly estrogen receptor (ER)-positive disease. We aimed to further explore this association overall, and by tumor histopathology, in the Breast Cancer Association Consortium.
Data were combined from 37 studies, including 40,972 invasive cases, 1,398 cases of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and 46,334 controls, all of white European ancestry, as well as 3,007 invasive cases and 2,337 controls of Asian ancestry. Associations overall and by tumor invasiveness and histopathology were assessed using logistic regression.
For white Europeans, the per-allele odds ratio (OR) associated with 5p12-rs10941679 was 1.11 (95% confidence interval [CI] =1.08–1.14, P=7×10−18) for invasive breast cancer and 1.10 (95%CI=1.01–1.21, P=0.03) for DCIS. For Asian women, the estimated OR for invasive disease was similar (OR=1.07, 95%CI=0.99–1.15, P=0.09). Further analyses suggested that the association in white Europeans was largely limited to progesterone receptor (PR)-positive disease (per-allele OR=1.16, 95%CI=1.12–1.20, P=1×10−18 versus OR=1.03, 95%CI=0.99–1.07, P=0.2 for PR-negative disease; P-heterogeneity=2×10−7); heterogeneity by estrogen receptor status was not observed (P=0.2) once PR status was accounted for. The association was also stronger for lower-grade tumors (per-allele OR [95%CI]=1.20 [1.14–1.25], 1.13 [1.09–1.16] and 1.04 [0.99–1.08] for grade 1, 2 and 3/4, respectively; P–trend=5×10−7).
5p12 is a breast cancer susceptibility locus for PR-positive, lower gradebreast cancer.
Multi-centre fine-mapping studies of this region are needed as a first step to identifying the causal variant or variants.
PMCID: PMC4164116  PMID: 21795498
Breast cancer; SNP; susceptibility; disease subtypes
13.  CHEK2*1100delC Heterozygosity in Women With Breast Cancer Associated With Early Death, Breast Cancer–Specific Death, and Increased Risk of a Second Breast Cancer 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2012;30(35):4308-4316.
We tested the hypotheses that CHEK2*1100delC heterozygosity is associated with increased risk of early death, breast cancer–specific death, and risk of a second breast cancer in women with a first breast cancer.
Patients and Methods
From 22 studies participating in the Breast Cancer Association Consortium, 25,571 white women with invasive breast cancer were genotyped for CHEK2*1100delC and observed for up to 20 years (median, 6.6 years). We examined risk of early death and breast cancer–specific death by estrogen receptor status and risk of a second breast cancer after a first breast cancer in prospective studies.
CHEK2*1100delC heterozygosity was found in 459 patients (1.8%). In women with estrogen receptor–positive breast cancer, multifactorially adjusted hazard ratios for heterozygotes versus noncarriers were 1.43 (95% CI, 1.12 to 1.82; log-rank P = .004) for early death and 1.63 (95% CI, 1.24 to 2.15; log-rank P < .001) for breast cancer–specific death. In all women, hazard ratio for a second breast cancer was 2.77 (95% CI, 2.00 to 3.83; log-rank P < .001) increasing to 3.52 (95% CI, 2.35 to 5.27; log-rank P < .001) in women with estrogen receptor–positive first breast cancer only.
Among women with estrogen receptor–positive breast cancer, CHEK2*1100delC heterozygosity was associated with a 1.4-fold risk of early death, a 1.6-fold risk of breast cancer–specific death, and a 3.5-fold risk of a second breast cancer. This is one of the few examples of a genetic factor that influences long-term prognosis being documented in an extensive series of women with breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3515767  PMID: 23109706
14.  Detection of large scale 3′ deletions in the PMS2 gene amongst Colon-CFR participants – have we been missing anything? 
Familial cancer  2013;12(3):563-566.
Current screening practices have been able to identify PMS2 mutations in 78% of cases of colorectal cancer from the Colorectal Cancer Family Registry (Colon CFR) which showed solitary loss of the PMS2 protein. However the detection of large-scale deletions in the 3′ end of the PMS2 gene has not been possible due to technical difficulties associated with pseudogene sequences. Here, we utilised a recently described MLPA/long-range PCR-based approach to screen the remaining 22% (n = 16) of CRC-affected probands for mutations in the 3′ end of the PMS2 gene. No deletions encompassing any or all of exons 12 through 15 were identified; therefore, our results suggest that 3′ deletions in PMS2 are not a frequent occurrence in such families.
PMCID: PMC3639299  PMID: 23288611
Lynch syndrome; PMS2; germline testing; large deletions; pseudogenes; colorectal cancer
15.  Diagnostic chest x-rays and breast cancer risk before age 50 years for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers 
The effects of low-dose medical radiation on breast cancer risk are uncertain, and few studies have included genetically susceptible women, such as those who carry germline BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations.
We studied 454 BRCA1 and 273 BRCA2 mutation carriers aged <50 years from three breast cancer family registries in the USA, Canada, and Australia/New Zealand. We estimated breast cancer risk associated with diagnostic chest x-rays by comparing mutation carriers with breast cancer (cases) with those without breast cancer (controls). Exposure to chest x-rays was self-reported. Mammograms were not considered in the analysis.
After adjusting for known risk factors for breast cancer, the odds ratio (OR) for a history of diagnostic chest x-rays, excluding those for tuberculosis or pneumonia, was 1.16 (95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.64–2.11) for BRCA1 mutations carriers and 1.22 (95% CI=0.62–2.42) for BRCA2 mutations carriers. The OR was statistically elevated for BRCA2 mutation carriers with 3–5 diagnostic chest x-rays (p = 0.01), but not for those with 6 or more chest x-rays. Few women reported chest fluoroscopy for tuberculosis or chest x-rays for pneumonia; the OR estimates were elevated, but not statistically significant, for BRCA1 mutation carriers.
Our findings do not support a positive association between diagnostic chest x-rays and breast cancer risk before age 50 years for BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation carriers.
Given the increasing use of diagnostic imaging involving higher ionizing radiation doses, further studies of genetically predisposed women are warranted.
PMCID: PMC4015518  PMID: 23853209
breast cancer; BRCA1; BRCA2; chest x-rays; diagnostic radiation; epidemiology
16.  Childhood Infections and Adult Height in Monozygotic Twin Pairs 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2013;178(4):551-558.
Adult height is determined by genetics and childhood nutrition, but childhood infections may also play a role. Monozygotic twins are genetically matched and offer an advantage when identifying environmental determinants. In 2005–2007, we examined the association of childhood infections with adult height in 140 height-discordant monozygotic twin pairs from the California Twin Program. To obtain information on childhood infections and growth, we interviewed the mothers of monozygotic twins who differed in self-reported adult height by at least 1-inch (2.5 cm). Within-pair differences in the relative frequency of childhood infections were highly correlated, especially within age groups. A conditional logistic regression analysis demonstrated that more reported episodes of febrile illness occurred in the twin with shorter stature (odds ratio = 2.00, 95% confidence interval: 1.18, 3.40). The association was strongest for differences in the relative frequency of infection during the toddler years (ages 1–5: odds ratio = 3.34, 95% confidence interval: 1.47, 7.59) and was similar when restricted to twin pairs of equal birth length. The association was not explained by differential nutritional status. Measures of childhood infection were associated with height difference in monozygotic twin pairs, independent of genome, birth length, and available measures of diet.
PMCID: PMC3736755  PMID: 23585330
body height; case-control studies; growth; infection; pediatrics; twins
17.  Germline HOXB13 p.Gly84Glu Mutation and Risk of Colorectal Cancer 
Cancer epidemiology  2013;37(4):424-427.
The HOXB13 p.Gly84Glu mutation has recently been associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer but the association of other cancer sites with this allele has not been assessed. Data has suggested that HOXB13 expression levels are decreased in colorectal cancer (CRC) cell lines indicating this gene may be involved in colorectal tumourigenesis.
To evaluate a potential association of this mutation with CRC, we genotyped the mutation in 2,695 CRC cases and 4,593 controls from population-based registries in Canada and Australia.
The HOXB13 p.Gly84Glu mutation was more common in CRC cases than controls (0.48% vs. 0.17%, p=0.02) indicating a significant association between the HOXB13 variant and CRC risk (OR = 2.8; 95%CI: 1.2-6.8). This association was attenuated but remained significant with the inclusion of previously published and publicly available genotype data. Pedigree analysis of cases and controls revealed that 7/21 HOXB13 mutation carriers had a family history of prostate cancer.
This report is the first to suggest a risk of CRC associated with mutations in the HOXB13 gene. These findings require further validation but may be of importance in the screening and genetic counseling of families known to carry the HOXB13 p.Gly84Glu mutation.
PMCID: PMC3684005  PMID: 23541221
Colorectal cancer; risk; HOXB13 gene; genetic polymorphism
18.  Association between hypermethylation of DNA repetitive elements in white blood cell DNA and early-onset colorectal cancer 
Epigenetics  2013;8(7):748-755.
Changes in the methylation levels of DNA from white blood cells (WBCs) are putatively associated with an elevated risk for several cancers. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between colorectal cancer (CRC) and the methylation status of three DNA repetitive elements in DNA from peripheral blood. WBC DNA from 539 CRC cases diagnosed before 60 years of age and 242 sex and age frequency-matched healthy controls from the Australasian Colorectal Cancer Family Registry were assessed for methylation across DNA repetitive elements Alu, LINE-1 and Sat2 using MethyLight. The percentage of methylated reference (PMR) of cases and controls was calculated for each marker. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated using multivariable logistic regression adjusted for potential confounders. CRC cases demonstrated a significantly higher median PMR for LINE-1 (p < 0.001), Sat2 (p < 0.001) and Alu repeats (p = 0.02) when compared with controls. For each of the DNA repetitive elements, individuals with PMR values in the highest quartile were significantly more likely to have CRC compared with those in the lowest quartile (LINE-1 OR = 2.34, 95%CI = 1.48–3.70; p < 0.001, Alu OR = 1.83, 95%CI = 1.17–2.86; p = 0.01, Sat2 OR = 1.72, 95%CI = 1.10–2.71; p = 0.02). When comparing the OR for the PMR of each marker across subgroups of CRC, only the Alu marker showed a significant difference in the 5-fluoruracil treated and nodal involvement subgroups (both p = 0.002). This association between increasing methylation levels of three DNA repetitive elements in WBC DNA and early-onset CRC is novel and may represent a potential epigenetic biomarker for early CRC detection.
PMCID: PMC3781194  PMID: 23804018
colorectal cancer; DNA methylation; repetitive sequence; peripheral blood; epigenetics
19.  Common non-synonymous SNPs associated with breast cancer susceptibility: findings from the Breast Cancer Association Consortium 
Milne, Roger L. | Burwinkel, Barbara | Michailidou, Kyriaki | Arias-Perez, Jose-Ignacio | Zamora, M. Pilar | Menéndez-Rodríguez, Primitiva | Hardisson, David | Mendiola, Marta | González-Neira, Anna | Pita, Guillermo | Alonso, M. Rosario | Dennis, Joe | Wang, Qin | Bolla, Manjeet K. | Swerdlow, Anthony | Ashworth, Alan | Orr, Nick | Schoemaker, Minouk | Ko, Yon-Dschun | Brauch, Hiltrud | Hamann, Ute | Andrulis, Irene L. | Knight, Julia A. | Glendon, Gord | Tchatchou, Sandrine | Matsuo, Keitaro | Ito, Hidemi | Iwata, Hiroji | Tajima, Kazuo | Li, Jingmei | Brand, Judith S. | Brenner, Hermann | Dieffenbach, Aida Karina | Arndt, Volker | Stegmaier, Christa | Lambrechts, Diether | Peuteman, Gilian | Christiaens, Marie-Rose | Smeets, Ann | Jakubowska, Anna | Lubinski, Jan | Jaworska-Bieniek, Katarzyna | Durda, Katazyna | Hartman, Mikael | Hui, Miao | Yen Lim, Wei | Wan Chan, Ching | Marme, Federick | Yang, Rongxi | Bugert, Peter | Lindblom, Annika | Margolin, Sara | García-Closas, Montserrat | Chanock, Stephen J. | Lissowska, Jolanta | Figueroa, Jonine D. | Bojesen, Stig E. | Nordestgaard, Børge G. | Flyger, Henrik | Hooning, Maartje J. | Kriege, Mieke | van den Ouweland, Ans M.W. | Koppert, Linetta B. | Fletcher, Olivia | Johnson, Nichola | dos-Santos-Silva, Isabel | Peto, Julian | Zheng, Wei | Deming-Halverson, Sandra | Shrubsole, Martha J. | Long, Jirong | Chang-Claude, Jenny | Rudolph, Anja | Seibold, Petra | Flesch-Janys, Dieter | Winqvist, Robert | Pylkäs, Katri | Jukkola-Vuorinen, Arja | Grip, Mervi | Cox, Angela | Cross, Simon S. | Reed, Malcolm W.R. | Schmidt, Marjanka K. | Broeks, Annegien | Cornelissen, Sten | Braaf, Linde | Kang, Daehee | Choi, Ji-Yeob | Park, Sue K. | Noh, Dong-Young | Simard, Jacques | Dumont, Martine | Goldberg, Mark S. | Labrèche, France | Fasching, Peter A. | Hein, Alexander | Ekici, Arif B. | Beckmann, Matthias W. | Radice, Paolo | Peterlongo, Paolo | Azzollini, Jacopo | Barile, Monica | Sawyer, Elinor | Tomlinson, Ian | Kerin, Michael | Miller, Nicola | Hopper, John L. | Schmidt, Daniel F. | Makalic, Enes | Southey, Melissa C. | Hwang Teo, Soo | Har Yip, Cheng | Sivanandan, Kavitta | Tay, Wan-Ting | Shen, Chen-Yang | Hsiung, Chia-Ni | Yu, Jyh-Cherng | Hou, Ming-Feng | Guénel, Pascal | Truong, Therese | Sanchez, Marie | Mulot, Claire | Blot, William | Cai, Qiuyin | Nevanlinna, Heli | Muranen, Taru A. | Aittomäki, Kristiina | Blomqvist, Carl | Wu, Anna H. | Tseng, Chiu-Chen | Van Den Berg, David | Stram, Daniel O. | Bogdanova, Natalia | Dörk, Thilo | Muir, Kenneth | Lophatananon, Artitaya | Stewart-Brown, Sarah | Siriwanarangsan, Pornthep | Mannermaa, Arto | Kataja, Vesa | Kosma, Veli-Matti | Hartikainen, Jaana M. | Shu, Xiao-Ou | Lu, Wei | Gao, Yu-Tang | Zhang, Ben | Couch, Fergus J. | Toland, Amanda E. | Yannoukakos, Drakoulis | Sangrajrang, Suleeporn | McKay, James | Wang, Xianshu | Olson, Janet E. | Vachon, Celine | Purrington, Kristen | Severi, Gianluca | Baglietto, Laura | Haiman, Christopher A. | Henderson, Brian E. | Schumacher, Fredrick | Le Marchand, Loic | Devilee, Peter | Tollenaar, Robert A.E.M. | Seynaeve, Caroline | Czene, Kamila | Eriksson, Mikael | Humphreys, Keith | Darabi, Hatef | Ahmed, Shahana | Shah, Mitul | Pharoah, Paul D.P. | Hall, Per | Giles, Graham G. | Benítez, Javier | Dunning, Alison M. | Chenevix-Trench, Georgia | Easton, Douglas F. | Berchuck, Andrew | Eeles, Rosalind A. | Olama, Ali Amin Al | Kote-Jarai, Zsofia | Benlloch, Sara | Antoniou, Antonis | McGuffog, Lesley | Offit, Ken | Lee, Andrew | Dicks, Ed | Luccarini, Craig | Tessier, Daniel C. | Bacot, Francois | Vincent, Daniel | LaBoissière, Sylvie | Robidoux, Frederic | Nielsen, Sune F. | Cunningham, Julie M. | Windebank, Sharon A. | Hilker, Christopher A. | Meyer, Jeffrey | Angelakos, Maggie | Maskiell, Judi | van der Schoot, Ellen | Rutgers, Emiel | Verhoef, Senno | Hogervorst, Frans | Boonyawongviroj, Prat | Siriwanarungsan, Pornthep | Schrauder, Michael | Rübner, Matthias | Oeser, Sonja | Landrith, Silke | Williams, Eileen | Ryder-Mills, Elaine | Sargus, Kara | McInerney, Niall | Colleran, Gabrielle | Rowan, Andrew | Jones, Angela | Sohn, Christof | Schneeweiß, Andeas | Bugert, Peter | Álvarez, Núria | Lacey, James | Wang, Sophia | Ma, Huiyan | Lu, Yani | Deapen, Dennis | Pinder, Rich | Lee, Eunjung | Schumacher, Fred | Horn-Ross, Pam | Reynolds, Peggy | Nelson, David | Ziegler, Hartwig | Wolf, Sonja | Hermann, Volker | Lo, Wing-Yee | Justenhoven, Christina | Baisch, Christian | Fischer, Hans-Peter | Brüning, Thomas | Pesch, Beate | Rabstein, Sylvia | Lotz, Anne | Harth, Volker | Heikkinen, Tuomas | Erkkilä, Irja | Aaltonen, Kirsimari | von Smitten, Karl | Antonenkova, Natalia | Hillemanns, Peter | Christiansen, Hans | Myöhänen, Eija | Kemiläinen, Helena | Thorne, Heather | Niedermayr, Eveline | Bowtell, D | Chenevix-Trench, G | deFazio, A | Gertig, D | Green, A | Webb, P | Green, A. | Parsons, P. | Hayward, N. | Webb, P. | Whiteman, D. | Fung, Annie | Yashiki, June | Peuteman, Gilian | Smeets, Dominiek | Brussel, Thomas Van | Corthouts, Kathleen | Obi, Nadia | Heinz, Judith | Behrens, Sabine | Eilber, Ursula | Celik, Muhabbet | Olchers, Til | Manoukian, Siranoush | Peissel, Bernard | Scuvera, Giulietta | Zaffaroni, Daniela | Bonanni, Bernardo | Feroce, Irene | Maniscalco, Angela | Rossi, Alessandra | Bernard, Loris | Tranchant, Martine | Valois, Marie-France | Turgeon, Annie | Heguy, Lea | Sze Yee, Phuah | Kang, Peter | Nee, Kang In | Mariapun, Shivaani | Sook-Yee, Yoon | Lee, Daphne | Ching, Teh Yew | Taib, Nur Aishah Mohd | Otsukka, Meeri | Mononen, Kari | Selander, Teresa | Weerasooriya, Nayana | staff, OFBCR | Krol-Warmerdam, E. | Molenaar, J. | Blom, J. | Brinton, Louise | Szeszenia-Dabrowska, Neonila | Peplonska, Beata | Zatonski, Witold | Chao, Pei | Stagner, Michael | Bos, Petra | Blom, Jannet | Crepin, Ellen | Nieuwlaat, Anja | Heemskerk, Annette | Higham, Sue | Cross, Simon | Cramp, Helen | Connley, Dan | Balasubramanian, Sabapathy | Brock, Ian | Luccarini, Craig | Conroy, Don | Baynes, Caroline | Chua, Kimberley
Human Molecular Genetics  2014;23(22):6096-6111.
Candidate variant association studies have been largely unsuccessful in identifying common breast cancer susceptibility variants, although most studies have been underpowered to detect associations of a realistic magnitude. We assessed 41 common non-synonymous single-nucleotide polymorphisms (nsSNPs) for which evidence of association with breast cancer risk had been previously reported. Case-control data were combined from 38 studies of white European women (46 450 cases and 42 600 controls) and analyzed using unconditional logistic regression. Strong evidence of association was observed for three nsSNPs: ATXN7-K264R at 3p21 [rs1053338, per allele OR = 1.07, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.04–1.10, P = 2.9 × 10−6], AKAP9-M463I at 7q21 (rs6964587, OR = 1.05, 95% CI = 1.03–1.07, P = 1.7 × 10−6) and NEK10-L513S at 3p24 (rs10510592, OR = 1.10, 95% CI = 1.07–1.12, P = 5.1 × 10−17). The first two associations reached genome-wide statistical significance in a combined analysis of available data, including independent data from nine genome-wide association studies (GWASs): for ATXN7-K264R, OR = 1.07 (95% CI = 1.05–1.10, P = 1.0 × 10−8); for AKAP9-M463I, OR = 1.05 (95% CI = 1.04–1.07, P = 2.0 × 10−10). Further analysis of other common variants in these two regions suggested that intronic SNPs nearby are more strongly associated with disease risk. We have thus identified a novel susceptibility locus at 3p21, and confirmed previous suggestive evidence that rs6964587 at 7q21 is associated with risk. The third locus, rs10510592, is located in an established breast cancer susceptibility region; the association was substantially attenuated after adjustment for the known GWAS hit. Thus, each of the associated nsSNPs is likely to be a marker for another, non-coding, variant causally related to breast cancer risk. Further fine-mapping and functional studies are required to identify the underlying risk-modifying variants and the genes through which they act.
PMCID: PMC4204770  PMID: 24943594
20.  Rare key functional domain missense substitutions in MRE11A, RAD50, and NBN contribute to breast cancer susceptibility: results from a Breast Cancer Family Registry case-control mutation-screening study 
The MRE11A-RAD50-Nibrin (MRN) complex plays several critical roles related to repair of DNA double-strand breaks. Inherited mutations in the three components predispose to genetic instability disorders and the MRN genes have been implicated in breast cancer susceptibility, but the underlying data are not entirely convincing. Here, we address two related questions: (1) are some rare MRN variants intermediate-risk breast cancer susceptibility alleles, and if so (2) do the MRN genes follow a BRCA1/BRCA2 pattern wherein most susceptibility alleles are protein-truncating variants, or do they follow an ATM/CHEK2 pattern wherein half or more of the susceptibility alleles are missense substitutions?
Using high-resolution melt curve analysis followed by Sanger sequencing, we mutation screened the coding exons and proximal splice junction regions of the MRN genes in 1,313 early-onset breast cancer cases and 1,123 population controls. Rare variants in the three genes were pooled using bioinformatics methods similar to those previously applied to ATM, BRCA1, BRCA2, and CHEK2, and then assessed by logistic regression.
Re-analysis of our ATM, BRCA1, and BRCA2 mutation screening data revealed that these genes do not harbor pathogenic alleles (other than modest-risk SNPs) with minor allele frequencies >0.1% in Caucasian Americans, African Americans, or East Asians. Limiting our MRN analyses to variants with allele frequencies of <0.1% and combining protein-truncating variants, likely spliceogenic variants, and key functional domain rare missense substitutions, we found significant evidence that the MRN genes are indeed intermediate-risk breast cancer susceptibility genes (odds ratio (OR) = 2.88, P = 0.0090). Key domain missense substitutions were more frequent than the truncating variants (24 versus 12 observations) and conferred a slightly higher OR (3.07 versus 2.61) with a lower P value (0.029 versus 0.14).
These data establish that MRE11A, RAD50, and NBN are intermediate-risk breast cancer susceptibility genes. Like ATM and CHEK2, their spectrum of pathogenic variants includes a relatively high proportion of missense substitutions. However, the data neither establish whether variants in each of the three genes are best evaluated under the same analysis model nor achieve clinically actionable classification of individual variants observed in this study.
PMCID: PMC4229874  PMID: 24894818
21.  Risk of Metachronous Colon Cancer Following Surgery for Rectal Cancer in Mismatch Repair Gene Mutation Carriers 
Annals of surgical oncology  2013;20(6):1829-1836.
Despite regular surveillance colonoscopy, the metachronous colorectal cancer risk for mismatch repair (MMR) gene mutation carriers after segmental resection for colon cancer is high and total or subtotal colectomy is the preferred option. However, if the index cancer is in the rectum, management decisions are complicated by considerations of impaired bowel function. We aimed to estimate the risk of metachronous colon cancer for MMR gene mutation carriers who underwent a proctectomy for index rectal cancer.
This retrospective cohort study comprised 79 carriers of germline mutation in a MMR gene (18 MLH1, 55 MSH2, 4 MSH6, and 2 PMS2) from the Colon Cancer Family Registry who had had a proctectomy for index rectal cancer. Cumulative risks of metachronous colon cancer were calculated using the Kaplan–Meier method.
During median 9 years (range 1–32 years) of observation since the first diagnosis of rectal cancer, 21 carriers (27 %) were diagnosed with metachronous colon cancer (incidence 24.25, 95 % confidence interval [CI] 15.81–37.19 per 1,000 person-years). Cumulative risk of metachronous colon cancer was 19 % (95 % CI 9–31 %) at 10 years, 47 (95 % CI 31–68 %) at 20 years, and 69 % (95 % CI 45–89 %) at 30 years after surgical resection. The frequency of surveillance colonoscopy was 1 colonoscopy per 1.16 years (95 % CI 1.01–1.31 years). The AJCC stages of the metachronous cancers, where available, were 72 % stage I, 22 % stage II, and 6 % stage III.
Given the high metachronous colon cancer risk for MMR gene mutation carriers diagnosed with an index rectal cancer, proctocolectomy may need to be considered.
PMCID: PMC4041733  PMID: 23358792
Women carrying germline mutations in BRCA1 are at a substantially elevated risk of breast cancer and their tumors typically have distinctive morphological features. We hypothesised that constitutional methylation of the BRCA1 promoter region could give rise to such breast cancers in women. We selected 255 women diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 40 years for whom BRCA1 germline mutations had not been identified. 52 had five or more of nine BRCA1 mutation-associated morphological features (group 1), 39 had four (group 2), and 164 had three or less (group 3). The prevalence of detectable BRCA1 promoter methylation in peripheral blood DNA decreased from 31% to 10% to 5% across groups 1–3, respectively (p=0.000002) and was significantly greater than the 4% frequency in unaffected controls (p=0.004). Peripheral blood methylation was associated with a 3.5-fold (95% CI 1.4 – 10.5) increased risk of having early onset breast cancer. Methylation was consistently mosaic in the peripheral blood where the estimated allelic frequency of BRCA1 promoter methylation ranged from 0.1% to 17%. Group 1 women but not group 3 women with detectable methylation of peripheral blood DNA had high levels of BRCA1 promoter methylation of their tumor DNA, indicating that constitutional BRCA1 methylation strongly predisposes towards the development of BRCA1 methylated tumors that then have features resembling BRCA1 mutated tumors. Screening peripheral blood for BRCA1 promoter methylation might thus predict early-onset breast cancers. This raises the possibility of chemoprevention or other intervention to diminish the risk of developing breast cancer in these women.
PMCID: PMC4030007  PMID: 20978112
predisposition; cancer epigenetics; epimutation; prevention; biomarker
24.  Family History of Colorectal Cancer in BRAF p.V600E mutated Colorectal Cancer Cases 
Previous reports suggest that relatives of CRC-affected probands carrying the BRAF p.V600E mutation are at an increased risk of colorectal (CRC) and extracolonic cancers (ECCs). In this study, we estimated the association between a family history (FH) of either CRC or ECC and risk of CRC with a BRAF p.V600E mutation.
Population-based CRC cases (probands; aged 18–59years at diagnosis), recruited irrespective of family cancer history, were characterised for BRAF p.V600E mutation and mismatch repair (MMR) status. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated using multivariable logistic regression.
The 690 eligible probands demonstrated a mean age at CRC diagnosis of 46.9±7.8years, with 313 (47.9%) reporting a FH of CRC and 53 (7.7%) that were BRAF-mutated. Probands with BRAF-mutated, MMR-proficient CRCs were less likely to have a FH of CRC than probands that were BRAF-wildtype (OR=0.46, 95%CI=0.24–0.91; p=0.03). For probands with a BRAF-mutated CRC, the mean age at diagnosis was older for those with a CRC-affected first- or second-degree relative (49.3±6.4 years) compared with those without a FH (43.8±10.2 years; p=0.04). The older the age at diagnosis of CRC with the BRAF p.V600E mutation, the more likely these probands demonstrated a FH of CRC (OR=1.09 per year of age; 95%CI=1.00–1.18; p=0.04).
Probands with early-onset, BRAF-mutated and MMR-proficient CRC were less likely to have a FH of CRC than probands that were BRAF-wildtype.
These findings provide useful insights for cancer risk assessment in families and suggest that familial or inherited factors are more important in early onset, BRAF-wildtype CRC.
PMCID: PMC4024397  PMID: 23462926
BRAF p.V600E mutation; colorectal cancer; family history; mismatch repair; age at diagnosis
25.  Risk of pancreatic cancer in breast cancer families from the Breast Cancer Family Registry 
Increased risk of pancreatic cancer (PC) has been reported in breast cancer (BC) families carrying BRCA1and BRCA2 mutations; however, PC risk in mutation-negative (BRCAX) families has not been explored to date. The aim of this study was to estimate PC risk in high-risk BC families according to the BRCA mutation status.
A retrospective cohort analysis was applied to estimate standardized incidence ratios (SIR) for PC. A total of 5,799 families with ≥1 BC case tested for mutations in BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 were eligible. Families were divided into four classes: BRCA1, BRCA2, BRCAX with ≥2 BC diagnosed before age 50 (class 3), and the remaining BRCAX families (class 4).
BRCA1 mutation carriers were at increased risk of PC (SIR= 4.11; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.94-5.76) as were BRCA2 mutation carriers (SIR=5.79; 95% CI, 4.28-7.84). BRCAX family members were also at increased PC risk, which did not appear to vary by number of members with early-onset breast cancer (SIR=1.31; 95%CI, 1.06-1.63 for Class 3 and SIR=1.30; 95%CI, 1.13-1.49 for class 4).
Germline mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 are associated with an increased risk of PC. Members of BRCAX families are also at increased risk of PC, pointing to the existence of other genetic factors that increase the risk of both PC and BC.
This study clarifies the relationship between familial breast cancer and pancreatic cancer. Given its high mortality, PC should be included in risk assessment in familial breast cancer counseling.
PMCID: PMC3739843  PMID: 23456555
pancreatic cancer; breast cancer; BRCA1; BRCA2; BRCAX

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