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1.  Recurrent Coding Sequence Variation Explains Only A Small Fraction of the Genetic Architecture of Colorectal Cancer 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:16286.
Whilst common genetic variation in many non-coding genomic regulatory regions are known to impart risk of colorectal cancer (CRC), much of the heritability of CRC remains unexplained. To examine the role of recurrent coding sequence variation in CRC aetiology, we genotyped 12,638 CRCs cases and 29,045 controls from six European populations. Single-variant analysis identified a coding variant (rs3184504) in SH2B3 (12q24) associated with CRC risk (OR = 1.08, P = 3.9 × 10−7), and novel damaging coding variants in 3 genes previously tagged by GWAS efforts; rs16888728 (8q24) in UTP23 (OR = 1.15, P = 1.4 × 10−7); rs6580742 and rs12303082 (12q13) in FAM186A (OR = 1.11, P = 1.2 × 10−7 and OR = 1.09, P = 7.4 × 10−8); rs1129406 (12q13) in ATF1 (OR = 1.11, P = 8.3 × 10−9), all reaching exome-wide significance levels. Gene based tests identified associations between CRC and PCDHGA genes (P < 2.90 × 10−6). We found an excess of rare, damaging variants in base-excision (P = 2.4 × 10−4) and DNA mismatch repair genes (P = 6.1 × 10−4) consistent with a recessive mode of inheritance. This study comprehensively explores the contribution of coding sequence variation to CRC risk, identifying associations with coding variation in 4 genes and PCDHG gene cluster and several candidate recessive alleles. However, these findings suggest that recurrent, low-frequency coding variants account for a minority of the unexplained heritability of CRC.
doi:10.1038/srep16286
PMCID: PMC4639776  PMID: 26553438
2.  Genome-wide association study identifies multiple susceptibility loci for glioma 
Nature Communications  2015;6:8559.
Previous genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have shown that common genetic variation contributes to the heritable risk of glioma. To identify new glioma susceptibility loci, we conducted a meta-analysis of four GWAS (totalling 4,147 cases and 7,435 controls), with imputation using 1000 Genomes and UK10K Project data as reference. After genotyping an additional 1,490 cases and 1,723 controls we identify new risk loci for glioblastoma (GBM) at 12q23.33 (rs3851634, near POLR3B, P=3.02 × 10−9) and non-GBM at 10q25.2 (rs11196067, near VTI1A, P=4.32 × 10−8), 11q23.2 (rs648044, near ZBTB16, P=6.26 × 10−11), 12q21.2 (rs12230172, P=7.53 × 10−11) and 15q24.2 (rs1801591, near ETFA, P=5.71 × 10−9). Our findings provide further insights into the genetic basis of the different glioma subtypes.
Using meta-analysis of previous genome-wide association studies against the latest reference variant databases, this work identifies five new risk loci for glioblastoma and non-glioblastoma type of glioma.
doi:10.1038/ncomms9559
PMCID: PMC4600760  PMID: 26424050
3.  Identification of susceptibility loci for colorectal cancer in a genome-wide meta-analysis 
Human Molecular Genetics  2014;23(17):4729-4737.
To identify common variants influencing colorectal cancer (CRC) risk, we performed a meta-analysis of five genome-wide association studies, comprising 5626 cases and 7817 controls of European descent. We conducted replication of top ranked single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in additional series totalling 14 037 cases and 15 937 controls, identifying a new CRC risk locus at 10q24.2 [rs1035209; odds ratio (OR) = 1.13, P = 4.54 × 10−11]. We also performed meta-analysis of our studies, with previously published data, of several recently purported CRC risk loci. We failed to find convincing evidence for a previously reported genome-wide association at rs11903757 (2q32.3). Of the three additional loci for which evidence of an association in Europeans has been previously described we failed to show an association between rs59336 (12q24.21) and CRC risk. However, for the other two SNPs, our analyses demonstrated new, formally significant associations with CRC. These are rs3217810 intronic in CCND2 (12p13.32; OR = 1.19, P = 2.16 × 10−10) and rs10911251 near LAMC1 (1q25.3; OR = 1.09, P = 1.75 × 10−8). Additionally, we found some evidence to support a relationship between, rs647161, rs2423297 and rs10774214 and CRC risk originally identified in East Asians in our European datasets. Our findings provide further insights into the genetic and biological basis of inherited genetic susceptibility to CRC.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddu177
PMCID: PMC4133584  PMID: 24737748
4.  Implementation of genome-wide complex trait analysis to quantify the heritability in multiple myeloma 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:12473.
A sizeable fraction of multiple myeloma (MM) is expected to be explained by heritable factors. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have successfully identified a number of common single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) influencing MM risk. While these SNPs only explain a small proportion of the genetic risk it is unclear how much is left to be detected by other, yet to be identified, common SNPs. Therefore, we applied Genome-Wide Complex Trait Analysis (GCTA) to 2,282 cases and 5,197 controls individuals to estimate the heritability of MM. We estimated that the heritability explained by known common MM risk SNPs identified in GWAS was 2.9% (±2.4%), whereas the heritability explained by all common SNPs was 15.2% (±2.8%). Comparing the heritability explained by the common variants with that from family studies, a fraction of the heritability may be explained by other genetic variants, such as rare variants. In summary, our results suggest that known MM SNPs only explain a small proportion of the heritability and more common SNPs remain to be identified.
doi:10.1038/srep12473
PMCID: PMC4513545  PMID: 26208354
5.  Whole exome sequencing reveals the mutational spectrum of testicular germ cell tumours 
Nature communications  2015;6:5973.
Testicular germ cell tumours (TGCTs) are the most common cancer in young men. Here we perform whole exome sequencing of 42 TGCTs to comprehensively study the mutational profile of TGCT. The mutation rate is uniformly low in all of the tumours (mean 0.5 mutations per megabase [Mb]) as compared to the common cancers, consistent with the embryological origin of TGCT. In addition to expected copy number gain of chromosome 12p and mutation of KIT we identify recurrent mutations in the tumour suppressor gene CDC27 (11.9%). Copy number analysis reveals recurring amplification of the spermatocyte development gene FSIP2 (15.3%) and a 0.4Mb region at Xq28 (15.3%). Two treatment-refractory patients are shown to harbour XRCC2 mutations, a gene strongly implicated in defining cisplatin resistance. Our findings provide further insights into genes involved in the development and progression of TGCT.
doi:10.1038/ncomms6973
PMCID: PMC4338546  PMID: 25609015
6.  The association of rs1051730 genotype on adherence to and consumption of prescribed nicotine replacement therapy dose during a smoking cessation attempt 
Drug and Alcohol Dependence  2015;151:236-240.
Highlights
•We explore the impact of rs1051730 on nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) use in a smoking cessation trial.•Outcomes were NRT prescription adherence rate (%) and daily consumption (mg).•rs1051730 was associated with both outcomes at 7 days post quit attempt.•Each copy of the minor allele corresponded to a 1 mg decrease in daily NRT consumption.•No evidence of effect of genotype on either outcome observed at 28 days.
Introduction
While nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is an effective pharmacological smoking cessation treatment, its efficacy is influenced by adherence to and consumption of the prescribed dose. The genetic variant rs1051730 in the nicotinic receptor gene cluster CHRNA5-A3-B4 influences smoking quantity. The aim of this study was to explore the impact of rs1051730 genotype on adherence to and consumption of NRT prescription following a smoking cessation attempt.
Methods
Secondary analysis of data from a pharmacogenetic smoking cessation trial. Participants (n = 448) were prescribed a daily dose of NRT for four weeks post quit attempt, and monitored during weekly clinic visits. Outcome measures were NRT prescription adherence rate (%) and average daily NRT consumption (mg) at 7- and 28-days after the quit attempt.
Results
An association between rs1051730 genotype and both outcome measures was observed at 7-days after the quit date. Each copy of the minor allele corresponded to a 2.9% decrease in adherence to prescribed NRT dose (P = 0.044), and a 1.0 mg decrease in daily NRT consumption (P = 0.026). Adjusting for number of cigarettes smoked during this period only slightly attenuated these associations. There was no clear statistical evidence of an association between genotype and adherence or consumption at 28-days.
Conclusions
This is the first study to evaluate the impact of rs1051730 genotype on consumption of and adherence to NRT prescription during a smoking cessation attempt. We observed an association between this variant and both outcome measures at 7-days; however, this was only moderate. These findings require replication in an independent sample.
doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.03.035
PMCID: PMC4462564  PMID: 25891233
Smoking; Nicotine replacement therapy; Cessation; Genetics
7.  Common Variation at 1q24.1 (ALDH9A1) Is a Potential Risk Factor for Renal Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(3):e0122589.
So far six susceptibility loci for renal cell carcinoma (RCC) have been discovered by genome-wide association studies (GWAS). To identify additional RCC common risk loci, we performed a meta-analysis of published GWAS (totalling 2,215 cases and 8,566 controls of Western-European background) with imputation using 1000 Genomes Project and UK10K Project data as reference panels and followed up the most significant association signals [22 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and 3 indels in eight genomic regions] in 383 cases and 2,189 controls from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). A combined analysis identified a promising susceptibility locus mapping to 1q24.1 marked by the imputed SNP rs3845536 (Pcombined =2.30x10-8). Specifically, the signal maps to intron 4 of the ALDH9A1 gene (aldehyde dehydrogenase 9 family, member A1). We further evaluated this potential signal in 2,461 cases and 5,081 controls from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) GWAS of RCC cases and controls from multiple European regions. In contrast to earlier findings no association was shown in the IARC series (P=0.94; Pcombined =2.73x10-5). While variation at 1q24.1 represents a potential risk locus for RCC, future replication analyses are required to substantiate our observation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0122589
PMCID: PMC4380462  PMID: 25826619
8.  A Retrospective Observational Study of the Relationship between Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms Associated with the Risk of Developing Colorectal Cancer and Survival 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(2):e0117816.
Background
There is variability in clinical outcome for patients with apparently the same stage colorectal cancer (CRC). Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) mapping to chromosomes 1q41, 3q26.2, 6p21, 8q23.3, 8q24.21, 10p14, 11q13, 11q23.1, 12q13.13, 14q22, 14q22.2, 15q13.3, 16q22.1, 18q21.1, 19q13.11, 20p12, 20p12.3, 20q13.33 and Xp22 have robustly been shown to be associated with the risk of developing CRC. Since germline variation can also influence patient outcome the relationship between these SNPs and patient survivorship from CRC was examined.
Methods
All enrolled into the National Study of Colorectal Cancer Genetics (NSCCG) were genotyped for 1q41, 3q26.2, 6p21, 8q23.3, 8q24.21, 10p14, 11q13, 11q23.1, 12q13.13, 14q22, 14q22.2, 15q13.3, 16q22.1, 18q21.1, 19q13.11, 20p12, 20p12.3, 20q13.33 and xp22 SNPs. Linking this information to the National Cancer Data Repository allowed patient genotype to be related to survival.
Results
The linked dataset consisted of 4,327 individuals. 14q22.22 genotype defined by the SNP rs4444235 showed a significant association with overall survival. Specifically, the C allele was associated with poorer observed survival (per allele hazard ratio 1.13, 95% confidence interval 1.05–1.22, P = 0.0015).
Conclusion
The CRC susceptibility SNP rs4444235 also appears to exert an influence in modulating patient survival and warrants further evaluation as a potential prognostic marker.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0117816
PMCID: PMC4339731  PMID: 25710502
9.  Rare variants of large effect in BRCA2 and CHEK2 affect risk of lung cancer 
Wang, Yufei | McKay, James D. | Rafnar, Thorunn | Wang, Zhaoming | Timofeeva, Maria | Broderick, Peter | Zong, Xuchen | Laplana, Marina | Wei, Yongyue | Han, Younghun | Lloyd, Amy | Delahaye-Sourdeix, Manon | Chubb, Daniel | Gaborieau, Valerie | Wheeler, William | Chatterjee, Nilanjan | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Sulem, Patrick | Liu, Geoffrey | Kaaks, Rudolf | Henrion, Marc | Kinnersley, Ben | Vallée, Maxime | LeCalvez-Kelm, Florence | Stevens, Victoria L. | Gapstur, Susan M. | Chen, Wei V. | Zaridze, David | Szeszenia-Dabrowska, Neonilia | Lissowska, Jolanta | Rudnai, Peter | Fabianova, Eleonora | Mates, Dana | Bencko, Vladimir | Foretova, Lenka | Janout, Vladimir | Krokan, Hans E. | Gabrielsen, Maiken Elvestad | Skorpen, Frank | Vatten, Lars | Njølstad, Inger | Chen, Chu | Goodman, Gary | Benhamou, Simone | Vooder, Tonu | Valk, Kristjan | Nelis, Mari | Metspalu, Andres | Lener, Marcin | Lubiński, Jan | Johansson, Mattias | Vineis, Paolo | Agudo, Antonio | Clavel-Chapelon, Francoise | Bueno-de-Mesquita, H.Bas | Trichopoulos, Dimitrios | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Johansson, Mikael | Weiderpass, Elisabete | Tjønneland, Anne | Riboli, Elio | Lathrop, Mark | Scelo, Ghislaine | Albanes, Demetrius | Caporaso, Neil E. | Ye, Yuanqing | Gu, Jian | Wu, Xifeng | Spitz, Margaret R. | Dienemann, Hendrik | Rosenberger, Albert | Su, Li | Matakidou, Athena | Eisen, Timothy | Stefansson, Kari | Risch, Angela | Chanock, Stephen J. | Christiani, David C. | Hung, Rayjean J. | Brennan, Paul | Landi, Maria Teresa | Houlston, Richard S. | Amos, Christopher I.
Nature genetics  2014;46(7):736-741.
We conducted imputation to the 1000 Genomes Project of four genome-wide association studies of lung cancer in populations of European ancestry (11,348 cases and 15,861 controls) and genotyped an additional 10,246 cases and 38,295 controls for follow-up. We identified large-effect genome-wide associations for squamous lung cancer with the rare variants of BRCA2-K3326X (rs11571833; odds ratio [OR]=2.47, P=4.74×10−20) and of CHEK2-I157T (rs17879961; OR=0.38 P=1.27×10−13). We also showed an association between common variation at 3q28 (TP63; rs13314271; OR=1.13, P=7.22×10−10) and lung adenocarcinoma previously only reported in Asians. These findings provide further evidence for inherited genetic susceptibility to lung cancer and its biological basis. Additionally, our analysis demonstrates that imputation can identify rare disease-causing variants having substantive effects on cancer risk from pre-existing GWAS data.
doi:10.1038/ng.3002
PMCID: PMC4074058  PMID: 24880342
10.  A genome-wide association study of Hodgkin Lymphoma identifies new susceptibility loci at 2p16.1 (REL), 8q24.21, and 10p14 (GATA3) 
Nature genetics  2010;42(12):1126-1130.
To identify predisposition loci for classical Hodgkin Lymphoma (cHL) we conducted a genome-wide association study of 589 cHL cases and 5,199 controls with validation in 4 independent samples totaling 2,057 cases and 3,416 controls. We identified three new susceptibility loci at 2p16.1 (rs1432295, REL; odds ratio [OR]=1.22, Pcombined=1.91×10−8), 8q24.21 (rs2019960, PVT1; OR=1.33, Pcombined=1.26×10−13) and 10p14 (rs501764, GATA3; OR=1.25, Pcombined=7.05×10−8). Furthermore, we confirmed the role of the MHC in disease etiology by revealing a strong HLA association (rs6903608; OR=1.70, Pcombined=2.84×10−50). These data provide new insight into the pathogenesis of cHL.
doi:10.1038/ng.696
PMCID: PMC4268499  PMID: 21037568
11.  Deciphering the genetic architecture of low-penetrance susceptibility to colorectal cancer 
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;22(24):5075-5082.
Recent genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have identified common variants at 16 autosomal regions influencing the risk of developing colorectal cancer (CRC). To decipher the genetic basis of the association signals at these loci, we performed a meta-analysis of data from five GWASs, totalling 5626 cases and 7817 controls, using imputation to recover un-typed genotypes. To enhance our ability to discover low-frequency risk variants, in addition to using 1000 Genomes Project data as a reference panel, we made use of high-coverage sequencing data on 253 individuals, 199 with early-onset familial CRC. For 13 of the regions, it was possible to refine the association signal identifying a smaller region of interest likely to harbour the functional variant. Our analysis did not provide evidence that any of the associations at the 16 loci being a consequence of synthetic associations rather than linkage disequilibrium with a common risk variant.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddt357
PMCID: PMC3836483  PMID: 23904454
12.  Deciphering the 8q24.21 association for glioma 
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;22(11):2293-2302.
We have previously identified tagSNPs at 8q24.21 influencing glioma risk. We have sought to fine-map the location of the functional basis of this association using data from four genome-wide association studies, comprising a total of 4147 glioma cases and 7435 controls. To improve marker density across the 700 kb region, we imputed genotypes using 1000 Genomes Project data and high-coverage sequencing data generated on 253 individuals. Analysis revealed an imputed low-frequency SNP rs55705857 (P = 2.24 × 10−38) which was sufficient to fully capture the 8q24.21 association. Analysis by glioma subtype showed the association with rs55705857 confined to non-glioblastoma multiforme (non-GBM) tumours (P = 1.07 × 10−67). Validation of the non-GBM association was shown in three additional datasets (625 non-GBM cases, 2412 controls; P = 1.41 × 10−28). In the pooled analysis, the odds ratio for low-grade glioma associated with rs55705857 was 4.3 (P = 2.31 × 10−94). rs55705857 maps to a highly evolutionarily conserved sequence within the long non-coding RNA CCDC26 raising the possibility of direct functionality. These data provide additional insights into the aetiological basis of glioma development.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddt063
PMCID: PMC3652416  PMID: 23399484
13.  Common variation at 2q22.3 (ZEB2) influences the risk of renal cancer 
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;22(4):825-831.
Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) of renal cell cancer (RCC) have identified four susceptibility loci thus far. To identify an additional RCC common susceptibility locus, we conducted a GWAS and performed a meta-analysis with published GWASs (totalling 2215 cases and 8566 controls of European background) and followed up the most significant association signals [nine single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in eight genomic regions] in 3739 cases and 8786 controls. A combined analysis identified a novel susceptibility locus mapping to 2q22.3 marked by rs12105918 (P = 1.80 × 10−8; odds ratio 1.29, 95% CI: 1.18–1.41). The signal localizes to intron 2 of the ZEB2 gene (zinc finger E box-binding homeobox 2). Our findings suggest that genetic variation in ZEB2 influences the risk of RCC. This finding provides further insights into the genetic and biological basis of inherited genetic susceptibility to RCC.
doi:10.1093/hmg/dds489
PMCID: PMC3554205  PMID: 23184150
14.  Germline mutations in the proof-reading domains of POLE and POLD1 predispose to colorectal adenomas and carcinomas 
Nature genetics  2012;45(2):136-144.
Many individuals with multiple or large colorectal adenomas, or early-onset colorectal cancer (CRC), have no detectable germline mutations in the known cancer predisposition genes. Using whole-genome sequencing, supplemented by linkage and association analysis, we identified specific heterozygous POLE or POLD1 germline variants in several multiple adenoma and/or CRC cases, but in no controls. The susceptibility variants appear to have high penetrance. POLD1 is also associated with endometrial cancer predisposition. The mutations map to equivalent sites in the proof-reading (exonuclease) domain of DNA polymerases ε and δ, and are predicted to impair correction of mispaired bases inserted during DNA replication. In agreement with this prediction, mutation carriers’ tumours were microsatellite-stable, but tended to acquire base substitution mutations, as confirmed by yeast functional assays. Further analysis of published data showed that the recently-described group of hypermutant, microsatellite-stable CRCs is likely to be caused by somatic POLE exonuclease domain mutations.
doi:10.1038/ng.2503
PMCID: PMC3785128  PMID: 23263490
16.  Inherited variation at chromosome 12p13.33 including RAD52 influences squamous cell lung carcinoma risk 
Cancer Discovery  2011;2(2):131-139.
While lung cancer is largely caused by tobacco smoking, inherited genetic factors play a role in its etiology. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in Europeans have robustly demonstrated only three polymorphic variations influencing lung cancer risk. Tumor heterogeneity may have hampered the detection of association signal when all lung cancer subtypes were analyzed together. In a GWAS of 5,355 European smoking lung cancer cases and 4,344 smoking controls, we conducted a pathway-based analysis in lung cancer histologic subtypes with 19,082 SNPs mapping to 917 genes in the HuGE-defined “inflammation” pathway. We identified a susceptibility locus for squamous cell lung carcinoma (SQ) at 12p13.33 (RAD52, rs6489769), and replicated the association in three independent samples totaling 3,359 SQ cases and 9,100 controls (odds ratio=1.20, Pcombined=2.3×10−8).
Significance
The combination of pathway-based approaches and information on disease specific subtypes can improve the identification of cancer susceptibility loci in heterogeneous diseases.
doi:10.1158/2159-8290.CD-11-0246
PMCID: PMC3354721  PMID: 22585858
Lung cancer; histology; squamous cell carcinoma; pathway analysis; RAD52
17.  Fine-mapping of colorectal cancer susceptibility loci at 8q23.3, 16q22.1 and 19q13.11: refinement of association signals and use of in silico analysis to suggest functional variation and unexpected candidate target genes 
Human Molecular Genetics  2011;20(14):2879-2888.
We have previously identified several colorectal cancer (CRC)-associated polymorphisms using genome-wide association (GWA) analysis. We sought to fine-map the location of the functional variants for three of these regions at 8q23.3 (EIF3H), 16q22.1 (CDH1/CDH3) and 19q13.11 (RHPN2). We genotyped two case–control sets at high density in the selected regions and used existing data from four other case–control sets, comprising a total of 9328 CRC cases and 10 480 controls. To improve marker density, we imputed genotypes from the 1000 Genomes Project and Hapmap3 data sets. All three regions contained smaller areas in which a cluster of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) showed clearly stronger association signals than surrounding SNPs, allowing us to assign those areas as the most likely location of the disease-associated functional variant. Further fine-mapping within those areas was generally unhelpful in identifying the functional variation based on strengths of association. However, functional annotation suggested a relatively small number of functional SNPs, including some with potential regulatory function at 8q23.3 and 16q22.1 and a non-synonymous SNP in RPHN2. Interestingly, the expression quantitative trait locus browser showed a number of highly associated SNP alleles correlated with mRNA expression levels not of EIF3H and CDH1 or CDH3, but of UTP23 and ZFP90, respectively. In contrast, none of the top SNPs within these regions was associated with transcript levels at EIF3H, CDH1 or CDH3. Our post-GWA study highlights benefits of fine-mapping of common disease variants in combination with publicly available data sets. In addition, caution should be exercised when assigning functionality to candidate genes in regions discovered through GWA analysis.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddr190
PMCID: PMC3118761  PMID: 21531788
18.  Genetic Variants at Chromosomes 2q35, 5p12, 6q25.1, 10q26.13, and 16q12.1 Influence the Risk of Breast Cancer in Men 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(9):e1002290.
Male breast cancer accounts for approximately 1% of all breast cancer. To date, risk factors for male breast cancer are poorly defined, but certain risk factors and genetic features appear common to both male and female breast cancer. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have recently identified common single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that influence female breast cancer risk; 12 of these have been independently replicated. To examine if these variants contribute to male breast cancer risk, we genotyped 433 male breast cancer cases and 1,569 controls. Five SNPs showed a statistically significant association with male breast cancer: rs13387042 (2q35) (odds ratio (OR)  = 1.30, p = 7.98×10−4), rs10941679 (5p12) (OR = 1.26, p = 0.007), rs9383938 (6q25.1) (OR = 1.39, p = 0.004), rs2981579 (FGFR2) (OR = 1.18, p = 0.03), and rs3803662 (TOX3) (OR = 1.48, p = 4.04×10−6). Comparing the ORs for male breast cancer with the published ORs for female breast cancer, three SNPs—rs13387042 (2q35), rs3803662 (TOX3), and rs6504950 (COX11)—showed significant differences in ORs (p<0.05) between sexes. Breast cancer is a heterogeneous disease; the relative risks associated with loci identified to date show subtype and, based on these data, gender specificity. Additional studies of well-defined patient subgroups could provide further insight into the biological basis of breast cancer development.
Author Summary
Breast cancer is the most common female cancer in the United Kingdom but also occurs in men, albeit at a much lower frequency. Relatively little is known regarding risk factors for male breast cancer. Here, we examine the effect of common genetic variants that are known to be associated with female breast cancer to determine whether they also affect risk of male breast cancer. We show that certain of these variants are also associated with male breast cancer risk but that the magnitudes of their effects differ in males from females. Future analyses of the genetics of male breast cancer may shed light on the biology of both male and female breast cancer.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002290
PMCID: PMC3174231  PMID: 21949660
19.  Multiple Common Susceptibility Variants near BMP Pathway Loci GREM1, BMP4, and BMP2 Explain Part of the Missing Heritability of Colorectal Cancer 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(6):e1002105.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified 14 tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms (tagSNPs) that are associated with the risk of colorectal cancer (CRC), and several of these tagSNPs are near bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) pathway loci. The penalty of multiple testing implicit in GWAS increases the attraction of complementary approaches for disease gene discovery, including candidate gene- or pathway-based analyses. The strongest candidate loci for additional predisposition SNPs are arguably those already known both to have functional relevance and to be involved in disease risk. To investigate this proposition, we searched for novel CRC susceptibility variants close to the BMP pathway genes GREM1 (15q13.3), BMP4 (14q22.2), and BMP2 (20p12.3) using sample sets totalling 24,910 CRC cases and 26,275 controls. We identified new, independent CRC predisposition SNPs close to BMP4 (rs1957636, P = 3.93×10−10) and BMP2 (rs4813802, P = 4.65×10−11). Near GREM1, we found using fine-mapping that the previously-identified association between tagSNP rs4779584 and CRC actually resulted from two independent signals represented by rs16969681 (P = 5.33×10−8) and rs11632715 (P = 2.30×10−10). As low-penetrance predisposition variants become harder to identify—owing to small effect sizes and/or low risk allele frequencies—approaches based on informed candidate gene selection may become increasingly attractive. Our data emphasise that genetic fine-mapping studies can deconvolute associations that have arisen owing to independent correlation of a tagSNP with more than one functional SNP, thus explaining some of the apparently missing heritability of common diseases.
Author Summary
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified several colorectal cancer (CRC) susceptibility polymorphisms near genes that encode proteins in the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) pathway. However, most of the inherited susceptibility to CRC remains unexplained. We investigated three of the best candidate BMP genes (GREM1, BMP4, and BMP2) for additional polymorphisms associated with CRC. By extensive validation of polymorphisms with only modest evidence of association in the initial phases of the GWAS, we identified new, independent CRC predisposition polymorphisms close to BMP4 (rs1957636) and BMP2 (rs4813802). Near GREM1, we used additional genotyping around the GWAS-identified polymorphism rs4779584 to demonstrate two independent signals represented by rs16969681 and rs11632715. Common genes with modest effects on disease risk are becoming harder to identify, and approaches based on informed candidate gene selection may become increasingly attractive. In addition, genetic fine mapping around polymorphisms identified in GWAS can deconvolute associations which have arisen owing to two independent functional variants. These types of study can identify some of the apparently missing heritability of common disease.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002105
PMCID: PMC3107194  PMID: 21655089
20.  Chromosome 15q25 (CHRNA3-CHRNA5) Variation Impacts Indirectly on Lung Cancer Risk 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e19085.
Genetic variants at the 15q25 CHRNA5-CHRNA3 locus have been shown to influence lung cancer risk however there is controversy as to whether variants have a direct carcinogenic effect on lung cancer risk or impact indirectly through smoking behavior. We have performed a detailed analysis of the 15q25 risk variants rs12914385 and rs8042374 with smoking behavior and lung cancer risk in 4,343 lung cancer cases and 1,479 controls from the Genetic Lung Cancer Predisposition Study (GELCAPS). A strong association between rs12914385 and rs8042374, and lung cancer risk was shown, odds ratios (OR) were 1.44, (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.29–1.62, P = 3.69×10−10) and 1.35 (95% CI: 1.18–1.55, P = 9.99×10−6) respectively. Each copy of risk alleles at rs12914385 and rs8042374 was associated with increased cigarette consumption of 1.0 and 0.9 cigarettes per day (CPD) (P = 5.18×10−5 and P = 5.65×10−3). These genetically determined modest differences in smoking behavior can be shown to be sufficient to account for the 15q25 association with lung cancer risk. To further verify the indirect effect of 15q25 on the risk, we restricted our analysis of lung cancer risk to never-smokers and conducted a meta-analysis of previously published studies of lung cancer risk in never-smokers. Never-smoker studies published in English were ascertained from PubMed stipulating - lung cancer, risk, genome-wide association, candidate genes. Our study and five previously published studies provided data on 2,405 never-smoker lung cancer cases and 7,622 controls. In the pooled analysis no association has been found between the 15q25 variation and lung cancer risk (OR = 1.09, 95% CI: 0.94–1.28). This study affirms the 15q25 association with smoking and is consistent with an indirect link between genotype and lung cancer risk.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019085
PMCID: PMC3084737  PMID: 21559498
21.  Allelic Variation at the 8q23.3 Colorectal Cancer Risk Locus Functions as a Cis-Acting Regulator of EIF3H 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(9):e1001126.
Common genetic variation at human 8q23.3 is significantly associated with colorectal cancer (CRC) risk. To elucidate the basis of this association we compared the frequency of common variants at 8q23.3 in 1,964 CRC cases and 2,081 healthy controls. Reporter gene studies showed that the single nucleotide polymorphism rs16888589 acts as an allele-specific transcriptional repressor. Chromosome conformation capture (3C) analysis demonstrated that the genomic region harboring rs16888589 interacts with the promoter of gene for eukaryotic translation initiation factor 3, subunit H (EIF3H). We show that increased expression of EIF3H gene increases CRC growth and invasiveness thereby providing a biological mechanism for the 8q23.3 association. These data provide evidence for a functional basis for the non-coding risk variant rs16888589 at 8q23.3 and provides novel insight into the etiological basis of CRC.
Author Summary
Common inherited variation on human chromosome 8q23 influences the risk of developing colorectal cancer (CRC). To understand the basis of this association we have compared the frequency of common genetic variants at 8q23 in ∼2,000 CRC cases and ∼2,000 healthy controls. Functional analyses of variants strongly associated with CRC risk showed that the single nucleotide polymorphism rs16888589 underscores the 8q23.3 association. The region of the genome harboring rs16888589 increases the expression of the gene for eukaryotic translation initiation factor 3, subunit H. We show that increased expression of this gene increases CRC growth thereby providing a biological mechanism for the 8q23.3 association. This finding is of particular importance in elucidating the etiological basis of CRC.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1001126
PMCID: PMC2940760  PMID: 20862326
22.  Multiple Independent Loci at Chromosome 15q25.1 Affect Smoking Quantity: a Meta-Analysis and Comparison with Lung Cancer and COPD 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(8):e1001053.
Recently, genetic association findings for nicotine dependence, smoking behavior, and smoking-related diseases converged to implicate the chromosome 15q25.1 region, which includes the CHRNA5-CHRNA3-CHRNB4 cholinergic nicotinic receptor subunit genes. In particular, association with the nonsynonymous CHRNA5 SNP rs16969968 and correlates has been replicated in several independent studies. Extensive genotyping of this region has suggested additional statistically distinct signals for nicotine dependence, tagged by rs578776 and rs588765. One goal of the Consortium for the Genetic Analysis of Smoking Phenotypes (CGASP) is to elucidate the associations among these markers and dichotomous smoking quantity (heavy versus light smoking), lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We performed a meta-analysis across 34 datasets of European-ancestry subjects, including 38,617 smokers who were assessed for cigarettes-per-day, 7,700 lung cancer cases and 5,914 lung-cancer-free controls (all smokers), and 2,614 COPD cases and 3,568 COPD-free controls (all smokers). We demonstrate statistically independent associations of rs16969968 and rs588765 with smoking (mutually adjusted p-values<10−35 and <10−8 respectively). Because the risk alleles at these loci are negatively correlated, their association with smoking is stronger in the joint model than when each SNP is analyzed alone. Rs578776 also demonstrates association with smoking after adjustment for rs16969968 (p<10−6). In models adjusting for cigarettes-per-day, we confirm the association between rs16969968 and lung cancer (p<10−20) and observe a nominally significant association with COPD (p = 0.01); the other loci are not significantly associated with either lung cancer or COPD after adjusting for rs16969968. This study provides strong evidence that multiple statistically distinct loci in this region affect smoking behavior. This study is also the first report of association between rs588765 (and correlates) and smoking that achieves genome-wide significance; these SNPs have previously been associated with mRNA levels of CHRNA5 in brain and lung tissue.
Author Summary
Nicotine binds to cholinergic nicotinic receptors, which are composed of a variety of subunits. Genetic studies for smoking behavior and smoking-related diseases have implicated a genomic region that encodes the alpha5, alpha3, and beta4 subunits. We examined genetic data across this region for over 38,000 smokers, a subset of which had been assessed for lung cancer or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. We demonstrate strong evidence that there are at least two statistically independent loci in this region that affect risk for heavy smoking. One of these loci represents a change in the protein structure of the alpha5 subunit. This work is also the first to report strong evidence of association between smoking and a group of genetic variants that are of biological interest because of their links to expression of the alpha5 cholinergic nicotinic receptor subunit gene. These advances in understanding the genetic influences on smoking behavior are important because of the profound public health burdens caused by smoking and nicotine addiction.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1001053
PMCID: PMC2916847  PMID: 20700436
23.  Deciphering the impact of common genetic variation on lung cancer risk: A genome-wide association study 
Cancer research  2009;69(16):6633-6641.
To explore the impact of common variation on the risk of developing lung cancer we conducted a two-phase genome-wide association (GWA) study. In Phase 1, we compared the genotypes of 511,919 tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms (tagSNPs) in 1,952 cases and 1,438 controls; in Phase 2, 30,568 SNPs were genotyped in 2,465 cases and 3,005 controls. SNP selection was based on best supported P-values from Phase 1 and two other GWA studies of lung cancer. In the combined analysis of Phases 1 and 2, the strongest associations identified were defined by SNPs mapping to 15q25.1 (rs12914385; P = 3.19 × 10−16), 5p15.33 (rs4975616; P = 6.66 × 10−7), and 6p21.33 (rs3117582; P = 9.13 × 10−7). Variation at 15q25.1, but not 5p15.33 or 6p21.33, was strongly associated with smoking behaviour with risk alleles correlated to higher consumption. Variation at 5p15.33 was shown to significantly influence induction of lung cancer histology. Pooling data from the four series provided 21,620 genotypes for 7,560 cases and 8,205 controls. A meta-analysis provided increased support that variation at 15q25.1 (rs8034191; P = 3.24 × 10−26), 5p15.33 (rs4975616; P = 2.99 × 10−9), and 6p21.33 (rs3117582; P = 4.46 × 10−10) influences lung cancer risk. The next best-supported associations were attained at 15q15.2 (rs748404: P = 1.08 × 10−6) and 10q23.31 (rs1926203; P = 1.28 × 10−6). These data indicate few common variants account for 1% of the excess familial risk underscoring the necessity of having additional large sample series for gene discovery.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-0680
PMCID: PMC2754318  PMID: 19654303
lung cancer; genome-wide association
24.  Common 5p15.33 and 6p21.33 variants influence lung cancer risk 
Nature genetics  2008;40(12):1407-1409.
We conducted a genome-wide association (GWA) study of lung cancer comparing 511,919 SNP genotypes in 1,952 cases and 1,438 controls. The most significant association was attained at 15q25.1 (rs8042374; P = 7.75 × 10−12), confirming recent observations. Pooling data with two other GWA studies (5,095 cases, 5,200 controls) and with replication in an additional 2,484 cases and 3,036 controls, we identified two newly associated risk loci mapping to 6p21.33 (rs3117582, BAT3-MSH5; Pcombined = 4.97 × 10−10) and 5p15.33 (rs401681, CLPTM1L; Pcombined = 7.90 × 10−9).
doi:10.1038/ng.273
PMCID: PMC2695928  PMID: 18978787
25.  Genome-wide association scan identifies a colorectal cancer susceptibility locus on 11q23 and replicates risk loci at 8q24 and 18q21 
Nature genetics  2008;40(5):631-637.
In a genome-wide association study to identify loci associated with colorectal cancer (CRC) risk, we genotyped 555,510 SNPs in 1,012 early-onset Scottish CRC cases and 1,012 controls (phase 1.) In phase 2, we genotyped the 15,008 highest-ranked SNPs in 2,057 Scottish cases and 2,111 controls. We then genotyped the five highest-ranked SNPs from the joint phase 1 and 2 analysis in 14,500 cases and 13,294 controls from seven populations, and identified a previously unreported association, rs3802842 on 11q23 (OR = 1.1; P = 5.8 × 10-10), showing population differences in risk. We also replicated and fine-mapped associations at 8q24 (rs7014346; OR = 1.19; P = 8.6 × 10-26) and 18q21 (rs4939827; OR = 1.2; P = 7.8 × 10-28). Risk was greater for rectal than for colon cancer for rs3802842 (P < 0.008) and rs4939827 (P < 0.009). Carrying all six possible risk alleles yielded OR = 2.6 (95% CI = 1.75-3.89) for CRC. These findings extend our understanding of the role of common genetic variation in CRC etiology.
doi:10.1038/ng.133
PMCID: PMC2778004  PMID: 18372901

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