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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.  MC1R genotype as a predictor of early-onset melanoma, compared with self-reported and physician-measured traditional risk factors: an Australian case-control-family study 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:406.
Melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) gene variants are very common and are associated with melanoma risk, but their contribution to melanoma risk prediction compared with traditional risk factors is unknown. We aimed to 1) evaluate the separate and incremental contribution of MC1R genotype to prediction of early-onset melanoma, and compare this with the contributions of physician-measured and self-reported traditional risk factors, and 2) develop risk prediction models that include MC1R, and externally validate these models using an independent dataset from a genetically similar melanoma population.
Using data from an Australian population-based, case-control-family study, we included 413 case and 263 control participants with sequenced MC1R genotype, clinical skin examination and detailed questionnaire. We used unconditional logistic regression to estimate predicted probabilities of melanoma. Results were externally validated using data from a similar study in England.
When added to a base multivariate model containing only demographic factors, MC1R genotype improved the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) by 6% (from 0.67 to 0.73; P < 0.001) and improved the quartile classification by a net 26% of participants. In a more extensive multivariate model, the factors that contributed significantly to the AUC were MC1R genotype, number of nevi and previous non-melanoma skin cancer; the AUC was 0.78 (95% CI 0.75-0.82) for the model with self-reported nevi and 0.83 (95% CI 0.80-0.86) for the model with physician-counted nevi. Factors that did not further contribute were sun and sunbed exposure and pigmentation characteristics. Adding MC1R to a model containing pigmentation characteristics and other self-reported risk factors increased the AUC by 2.1% (P = 0.01) and improved the quartile classification by a net 10% (95% CI 1-18%, P = 0.03).
Although MC1R genotype is strongly associated with skin and hair phenotype, it was a better predictor of early-onset melanoma than was pigmentation characteristics. Physician-measured nevi and previous non-melanoma skin cancer were also strong predictors. There might be modest benefit to measuring MC1R genotype for risk prediction even if information about traditional self-reported or clinically measured pigmentation characteristics and nevi is already available.
PMCID: PMC3766240  PMID: 24134749
MC1R; Risk prediction; Accuracy; Melanoma; Sun exposure; Early-onset; Pigmentation; Nevi
3.  Sunbed use during adolescence and early adulthood is associated with increased risk of early-onset melanoma 
Sunbed use is associated with increased risk of melanoma. Younger people might be more susceptible to the carcinogenic effects of ultraviolet radiation. We investigated the association between sunbed use and risk of early-onset cutaneous malignant melanoma. From the Australian Melanoma Family Study, a multi-centre, population-based, case-control-family study, we analysed data for 604 cases diagnosed between ages 18 and 39 years and 479 controls. Data were collected by interview. Associations were estimated as odds ratios (ORs) using unconditional logistic regression, adjusting for age, sex, city, education, family history, skin colour, usual skin response to sunlight, and sun exposure. Compared with having never used a sunbed, the OR for melanoma associated with ever-use was 1.41 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.01-1.96), and 2.01 (95% CI 1.22-3.31) for more than 10 lifetime sessions (Ptrend 0.01 with cumulative use). The association was stronger for earlier age at first use (Ptrend 0.02). The association was also stronger for melanoma diagnosed when aged 18-29 years (OR for more than 10 lifetime sessions = 6.57, 95% CI 1.41-30.49) than for melanoma diagnosed when 30-39 years (OR 1.60, 95% CI 0.92-2.77; Pinteraction 0.01). Among those who had ever used a sunbed and were diagnosed between 18-29 years of age, three quarters (76%) of melanomas were attributable to sunbed use. Sunbed use is associated with increased risk of early-onset melanoma, with risk increasing with greater use, an earlier age at first use and for earlier onset disease.
PMCID: PMC2993823  PMID: 20669232
sunbed; artificial tanning; melanoma; risk factor; early-onset
5.  A novel recurrent mutation in MITF predisposes to familial and sporadic melanoma 
Nature  2011;480(7375):99-103.
So far, two familial melanoma genes have been identified, accounting for a minority of genetic risk in families. Mutations in CDKN2A account for approximately 40% of familial cases1, and predisposing mutations in CDK4 have been reported in a very small number of melanoma kindreds2. To identify other familial melanoma genes, here we conducted whole-genome sequencing of probands from several melanoma families, identifying one individual carrying a novel germline variant (coding DNA sequence c.G1075A; protein sequence p.E318K; rs149617956) in the melanoma-lineage-specific oncogene microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF). Although the variant co-segregated with melanoma in some but not all cases in the family, linkage analysis of 31 families subsequently identified to carry the variant generated a log odds ratio (lod) score of 2.7 under a dominant model, indicating E318K as a possible intermediate risk variant. Consistent with this, the E318K variant was significantly associated with melanoma in a large Australian case–control sample. Likewise, it was similarly associated in an independent case–control sample from the United Kingdom. In the Australian sample, the variant allele was significantly over-represented in cases with a family history of melanoma, multiple primary melanomas, or both. The variant allele was also associated with increased naevus count and non-blue eye colour. Functional analysis of E318K showed that MITF encoded by the variant allele had impaired sumoylation and differentially regulated several MITF targets. These data indicate that MITF is a melanoma-predisposition gene and highlight the utility of whole-genome sequencing to identify novel rare variants associated with disease susceptibility.
PMCID: PMC3266855  PMID: 22080950
6.  Population-based, Case-Control-Family Design to Investigate Genetic and Environmental Influences on Melanoma Risk 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2009;170(12):1541-1554.
Discovering and understanding genetic risk factors for melanoma and their interactions with phenotype, sun exposure, and other risk factors could lead to new strategies for melanoma control. This paper describes the Australian Melanoma Family Study, which uses a multicenter, population-based, case-control-family design. From 2001 to 2005, the authors recruited 1,164 probands including 629 cases with histopathologically confirmed, first-primary cutaneous melanoma diagnosed before age 40 years, 240 population-based controls frequency matched for age, and 295 spouse/friend controls. Information on lifetime sun exposure, phenotype, and residence history was collected for probands and nearly 4,000 living relatives. More than 3,000 subjects donated a blood sample. Proxy-reported information was collected for childhood sun exposure and deceased relatives. Important features of this study include the population-based, family-based design; a focus on early onset disease; probands from 3 major cities differing substantially in solar ultraviolet exposure and melanoma incidence; a population at high risk because of high ultraviolet exposure and susceptible pigmentation phenotypes; population-based, spouse/friend, and sibling controls; systematic recruitment of relatives of case and control probands; self and parent reports of childhood sun exposure; and objective clinical skin examinations. The authors discuss methodological and analytical issues related to the study design and conduct, as well as the potentially novel insights the study can deliver.
PMCID: PMC2800270  PMID: 19887461
case-control studies; environmental exposure; family; genetic predisposition to disease; melanoma; risk factors
7.  Common sequence variants on 20q11.22 confer melanoma susceptibility 
Nature genetics  2008;40(7):838-840.
We conducted a genome-wide association pooling study for cutaneous melanoma and performed validation in samples totalling 2019 cases and 2105 controls. Using pooling we identified a novel melanoma risk locus on chromosome 20 (rs910873, rs1885120), with replication in two further samples (combined P <1 × 10-15). The odds ratio is 1.75 (1.53, 2.01), with evidence for stronger association in early onset cases.
PMCID: PMC2755512  PMID: 18488026

Results 1-7 (7)