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1.  Genetic variants in Fas signaling pathway genes and risk of gastric cancer 
Populations in north central China are at high risk for gastric cancers (GC), and altered FAS-mediated cell signaling and/or apoptosis may contribute to this risk. We examined the association of 554 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 53 Fas signaling-related genes using a pathway-based approach in 1758 GC cases (1126 gastric cardia adenocarcinomas (GCA) and 632 gastric noncardia adenocarcinomas (GNCA)), and 2111 controls from a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of GC in ethnic Chinese. SNP associations with risk of overall GC, GCA and GNCA were evaluated using unconditional logistic regressions controlling for age, sex and study. Gene- and pathway-based associations were tested using the adaptive rank-truncated product (ARTP) method. Statistical significance was evaluated empirically by permutation. Significant pathway-based associations were observed for Fas signaling with risk of overall GC (P = 5.5E-04) and GCA (P = 6.3E-03), but not GNCA (P = 8.1E-02). Among examined genes in the Fas signaling pathway, MAP2K4, FAF1, MAPK8, CASP10, CASP8, CFLAR, MAP2K1, CAP8AP2, PAK2 and IKBKB were associated with risk of GC (nominal P < 0.05), and FAF1 and MAPK8 were significantly associated with risk of both GCA and GNCA (nominal P < 0.05). Our examination of genetic variation in the Fas signaling pathway is consistent with an association of altered Fas signaling and/or apoptosis with risk of GC. As one of the first attempts to investigate a pathway-level association, our results suggest that these genes and the Fas signaling pathway warrant further evaluation in relation to GC risk in other populations.
doi:10.1002/ijc.28415
PMCID: PMC3858487  PMID: 23921907
Gastric cancer; gastric cardia; gastric noncardia; Fas signaling; genetic variants; GWAS; single nucleotide polymorphisms; pathway genes
2.  Genetic variants in DNA repair pathway genes and risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and gastric adenocarcinoma in a Chinese population 
Carcinogenesis  2013;34(7):1536-1542.
The DNA repair pathways help to maintain genomic integrity and therefore genetic variation in the pathways could affect the propensity to develop cancer. Selected germline single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the pathways have been associated with esophageal cancer and gastric cancer (GC) but few studies have comprehensively examined the pathway genes. We aimed to investigate associations between DNA repair pathway genes and risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) and GC, using data from a genome-wide association study in a Han Chinese population where ESCC and GC are the predominant cancers. In sum, 1942 ESCC cases, 1758 GC cases and 2111 controls from the Shanxi Upper Gastrointestinal Cancer Genetics Project (discovery set) and the Linxian Nutrition Intervention Trials (replication set) were genotyped for 1675 SNPs in 170 DNA repair-related genes. Logistic regression models were applied to evaluate SNP-level associations. Gene- and pathway-level associations were determined using the resampling-based adaptive rank-truncated product approach. The DNA repair pathways overall were significantly associated with risk of ESCC (P = 6.37 × 10− 4), but not with GC (P = 0.20). The most significant gene in ESCC was CHEK2 (P = 2.00 × 10− 6) and in GC was CLK2 (P = 3.02 × 10− 4). We observed several other genes significantly associated with either ESCC (SMUG1, TDG, TP53, GTF2H3, FEN1, POLQ, HEL308, RAD54B, MPG, FANCE and BRCA1) or GC risk (MRE11A, RAD54L and POLE) (P < 0.05). We provide evidence for an association between specific genes in the DNA repair pathways and the risk of ESCC and GC. Further studies are warranted to validate these associations and to investigate underlying mechanisms.
doi:10.1093/carcin/bgt094
PMCID: PMC3697889  PMID: 23504502
3.  Genetic variants in sex hormone metabolic pathway genes and risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
Carcinogenesis  2013;34(5):1062-1068.
In China, esophageal cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death where essentially all cases are histologically esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), in contrast to esophageal adenocarcinoma in the West. Globally, ESCC is 2.4 times more common among men than women and recently it has been suggested that sex hormones may be associated with the risk of ESCC. We examined the association between genetic variants in sex hormone metabolic genes and ESCC risk in a population from north central China with high-incidence rates. A total of 1026 ESCC cases and 1452 controls were genotyped for 797 unique tag single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 51 sex hormone metabolic genes. SNP-, gene- and pathway-based associations with ESCC risk were evaluated using unconditional logistic regression adjusted for age, sex and geographical location and the adaptive rank truncated product (ARTP) method. Statistical significance was determined through use of permutation for pathway- and gene-based associations. No associations were observed for the overall sex hormone metabolic pathway (P = 0.14) or subpathways (androgen synthesis: P = 0.30, estrogen synthesis: P = 0.15 and estrogen removal: P = 0.19) with risk of ESCC. However, six individual genes (including SULT2B1, CYP1B1, CYP3A7, CYP3A5, SHBG and CYP11A1) were significantly associated with ESCC risk (P < 0.05). Our examination of genetic variation in the sex hormone metabolic pathway is consistent with a potential association with risk of ESCC. These positive findings warrant further evaluation in relation to ESCC risk and replication in other populations.
doi:10.1093/carcin/bgt030
PMCID: PMC3643422  PMID: 23358850
4.  Global Changes in Gene Expression of Barrett's Esophagus Compared to Normal Squamous Esophagus and Gastric Cardia Tissues 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93219.
Background
Barrett's esophagus (BE) is a metaplastic precursor lesion of esophageal adenocarcinoma (EA), the most rapidly increasing cancer in western societies. While the prevalence of BE is increasing, the vast majority of EA occurs in patients with undiagnosed BE. Thus, we sought to identify genes that are altered in BE compared to the normal mucosa of the esophagus, and which may be potential biomarkers for the development or diagnosis of BE.
Design
We performed gene expression analysis using HG-U133A Affymetrix chips on fresh frozen tissue samples of Barrett's metaplasia and matched normal mucosa from squamous esophagus (NE) and gastric cardia (NC) in 40 BE patients.
Results
Using a cut off of 2-fold and P<1.12E-06 (0.05 with Bonferroni correction), we identified 1324 differentially-expressed genes comparing BE vs NE and 649 differentially-expressed genes comparing BE vs NC. Except for individual genes such as the SOXs and PROM1 that were dysregulated only in BE vs NE, we found a subset of genes (n = 205) whose expression was significantly altered in both BE vs NE and BE vs NC. These genes were overrepresented in different pathways, including TGF-β and Notch.
Conclusion
Our findings provide additional data on the global transcriptome in BE tissues compared to matched NE and NC tissues which should promote further understanding of the functions and regulatory mechanisms of genes involved in BE development, as well as insight into novel genes that may be useful as potential biomarkers for the diagnosis of BE in the future.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0093219
PMCID: PMC3979678  PMID: 24714516
5.  Genome-wide association studies of gastric adenocarcinoma and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma identify a shared susceptibility locus in PLCE1 at 10q23 
Nature genetics  2012;44(10):1090-1097.
We conducted a genome-wide association study of gastric cancer (GC) and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) in ethnic Chinese subjects in which we genotyped 551,152 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). We report a combined analysis of 2,240 GC cases, 2,115 ESCC cases, and 3,302 controls drawn from five studies. In logistic regression models adjusted for age, sex, and study, multiple variants at 10q23 had genome-wide significance for GC and ESCC independently. A notable signal was rs2274223, a nonsynonymous SNP located in PLCE1, for GC (P=8.40×1010; per allele odds ratio (OR) = 1.31) and ESCC (P=3.85×10−9; OR = 1.34). The association with GC differed by anatomic subsite. For tumors located in the cardia the association was stronger (P=4.19 × 10−15; OR= 1.57) and for those located in the noncardia stomach it was absent (P=0.44; OR=1.05). Our findings at 10q23 could provide insight into the high incidence rates of both cancers in China.
doi:10.1038/ng.2411
PMCID: PMC3513832  PMID: 22960999
6.  Genetic Variants in Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Pathway Genes and Risk of Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Gastric Cancer in a Chinese Population 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68999.
The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling pathway regulates cell proliferation, differentiation, and survival, and is frequently dysregulated in esophageal and gastric cancers. Few studies have comprehensively examined the association between germline genetic variants in the EGFR pathway and risk of esophageal and gastric cancers. Based on a genome-wide association study in a Han Chinese population, we examined 3443 SNPs in 127 genes in the EGFR pathway for 1942 esophageal squamous cell carcinomas (ESCCs), 1758 gastric cancers (GCs), and 2111 controls. SNP-level analyses were conducted using logistic regression models. We applied the resampling-based adaptive rank truncated product approach to determine the gene- and pathway-level associations. The EGFR pathway was significantly associated with GC risk (P = 2.16×10−3). Gene-level analyses found 10 genes to be associated with GC, including FYN, MAPK8, MAP2K4, GNAI3, MAP2K1, TLN1, PRLR, PLCG2, RPS6KB2, and PIK3R3 (P<0.05). For ESCC, we did not observe a significant pathway-level association (P = 0.72), but gene-level analyses suggested associations between GNAI3, CHRNE, PAK4, WASL, and ITCH, and ESCC (P<0.05). Our data suggest an association between specific genes in the EGFR signaling pathway and risk of GC and ESCC. Further studies are warranted to validate these associations and to investigate underlying mechanisms.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0068999
PMCID: PMC3715462  PMID: 23874846
7.  Genotypic variants at 2q33 and risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in China: a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies 
Abnet, Christian C. | Wang, Zhaoming | Song, Xin | Hu, Nan | Zhou, Fu-You | Freedman, Neal D. | Li, Xue-Min | Yu, Kai | Shu, Xiao-Ou | Yuan, Jian-Min | Zheng, Wei | Dawsey, Sanford M. | Liao, Linda M. | Lee, Maxwell P. | Ding, Ti | Qiao, You-Lin | Gao, Yu-Tang | Koh, Woon-Puay | Xiang, Yong-Bing | Tang, Ze-Zhong | Fan, Jin-Hu | Chung, Charles C. | Wang, Chaoyu | Wheeler, William | Yeager, Meredith | Yuenger, Jeff | Hutchinson, Amy | Jacobs, Kevin B. | Giffen, Carol A. | Burdett, Laurie | Fraumeni, Joseph F. | Tucker, Margaret A. | Chow, Wong-Ho | Zhao, Xue-Ke | Li, Jiang-Man | Li, Ai-Li | Sun, Liang-Dan | Wei, Wu | Li, Ji-Lin | Zhang, Peng | Li, Hong-Lei | Cui, Wen-Yan | Wang, Wei-Peng | Liu, Zhi-Cai | Yang, Xia | Fu, Wen-Jing | Cui, Ji-Li | Lin, Hong-Li | Zhu, Wen-Liang | Liu, Min | Chen, Xi | Chen, Jie | Guo, Li | Han, Jing-Jing | Zhou, Sheng-Li | Huang, Jia | Wu, Yue | Yuan, Chao | Huang, Jing | Ji, Ai-Fang | Kul, Jian-Wei | Fan, Zhong-Min | Wang, Jian-Po | Zhang, Dong-Yun | Zhang, Lian-Qun | Zhang, Wei | Chen, Yuan-Fang | Ren, Jing-Li | Li, Xiu-Min | Dong, Jin-Cheng | Xing, Guo-Lan | Guo, Zhi-Gang | Yang, Jian-Xue | Mao, Yi-Ming | Yuan, Yuan | Guo, Er-Tao | Zhang, Wei | Hou, Zhi-Chao | Liu, Jing | Li, Yan | Tang, Sa | Chang, Jia | Peng, Xiu-Qin | Han, Min | Yin, Wan-Li | Liu, Ya-Li | Hu, Yan-Long | Liu, Yu | Yang, Liu-Qin | Zhu, Fu-Guo | Yang, Xiu-Feng | Feng, Xiao-Shan | Wang, Zhou | Li, Yin | Gao, She-Gan | Liu, Hai-Lin | Yuan, Ling | Jin, Yan | Zhang, Yan-Rui | Sheyhidin, Ilyar | Li, Feng | Chen, Bao-Ping | Ren, Shu-Wei | Liu, Bin | Li, Dan | Zhang, Gao-Fu | Yue, Wen-Bin | Feng, Chang-Wei | Qige, Qirenwang | Zhao, Jian-Ting | Yang, Wen-Jun | Lei, Guang-Yan | Chen, Long-Qi | Li, En-Min | Xu, Li-Yan | Wu, Zhi-Yong | Bao, Zhi-Qin | Chen, Ji-Li | Li, Xian-Chang | Zhuang, Xiang | Zhou, Ying-Fa | Zuo, Xian-Bo | Dong, Zi-Ming | Wang, Lu-Wen | Fan, Xue-Pin | Wang, Jin | Zhou, Qi | Ma, Guo-Shun | Zhang, Qin-Xian | Liu, Hai | Jian, Xin-Ying | Lian, Sin-Yong | Wang, Jin-Sheng | Chang, Fu-Bao | Lu, Chang-Dong | Miao, Jian-Jun | Chen, Zhi-Guo | Wang, Ran | Guo, Ming | Fan, Zeng-Lin | Tao, Ping | Liu, Tai-Jing | Wei, Jin-Chang | Kong, Qing-Peng | Fan, Lei | Wang, Xian-Zeng | Gao, Fu-Sheng | Wang, Tian-Yun | Xie, Dong | Wang, Li | Chen, Shu-Qing | Yang, Wan-Cai | Hong, Jun-Yan | Wang, Liang | Qiu, Song-Liang | Goldstein, Alisa M. | Yuan, Zhi-Qing | Chanock, Stephen J. | Zhang, Xue-Jun | Taylor, Philip R. | Wang, Li-Dong
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;21(9):2132-2141.
Genome-wide association studies have identified susceptibility loci for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). We conducted a meta-analysis of all single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that showed nominally significant P-values in two previously published genome-wide scans that included a total of 2961 ESCC cases and 3400 controls. The meta-analysis revealed five SNPs at 2q33 with P< 5 × 10−8, and the strongest signal was rs13016963, with a combined odds ratio (95% confidence interval) of 1.29 (1.19–1.40) and P= 7.63 × 10−10. An imputation analysis of 4304 SNPs at 2q33 suggested a single association signal, and the strongest imputed SNP associations were similar to those from the genotyped SNPs. We conducted an ancestral recombination graph analysis with 53 SNPs to identify one or more haplotypes that harbor the variants directly responsible for the detected association signal. This showed that the five SNPs exist in a single haplotype along with 45 imputed SNPs in strong linkage disequilibrium, and the strongest candidate was rs10201587, one of the genotyped SNPs. Our meta-analysis found genome-wide significant SNPs at 2q33 that map to the CASP8/ALS2CR12/TRAK2 gene region. Variants in CASP8 have been extensively studied across a spectrum of cancers with mixed results. The locus we identified appears to be distinct from the widely studied rs3834129 and rs1045485 SNPs in CASP8. Future studies of esophageal and other cancers should focus on comprehensive sequencing of this 2q33 locus and functional analysis of rs13016963 and rs10201587 and other strongly correlated variants.
doi:10.1093/hmg/dds029
PMCID: PMC3315211  PMID: 22323360
8.  InterSCOPE Study: Associations Between Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Human Papillomavirus Serological Markers 
Background
The role of human papillomavirus (HPV) in the causation of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma is unclear. We examined the associations between esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and 28 centrally measured HPV serological markers in serum from six existing case–control studies conducted in regions with differing background risks of esophageal cancer.
Methods
We used centralized multiplex serology to test serum samples from 1561 case subjects and 2502 control subjects from six case–control studies for antibodies to the major HPV capsid protein (L1) and/or the early proteins E6 and/or E7 of eight high-risk, two low-risk, and four cutaneous HPV types. Study-specific odds ratios (ORs) and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated using conditional logistic regression with adjustment for smoking, alcohol consumption, and other potential confounders. Pooled odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated using either a linear mixed-effects approach or a joint fixed-effects approach. All statistical tests were two-sided.
Results
We found statistically significant associations between esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and antibodies to E6 for HPV16 (OR = 1.89, 95% CI = 1.09 to 3.29, P = .023) and HPV6 (OR = 2.53, 95% CI = 1.51 to 4.25, P < .001) but not for other tested HPV types. There were no statistically significant associations between esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and antibodies to E7 for any of the tested HPV types. Simultaneous seropositivity for HPV16 E6 and E7 was rare (four case subjects, two control subjects; OR = 5.57, 95% CI = 0.90 to 34.35; P = .064). We also found statistically significant associations between esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and capsid antibodies for the high-risk mucosal type HPV33 L1 (OR = 1.30, 95% CI = 1.00 to 1.69; P = .047) and the low-risk mucosal types HPV6 (OR = 1.22, 95% CI = 1.05 to 1.42; P = .010) and HPV11 (OR = 1.30, 95% CI = 1.09 to 1.56, P = .0036).
Conclusions
We found limited serological evidence of an association between esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and HPV in the populations studied. Although HPV does not appear to be an important risk factor for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, we cannot exclude the possibility that certain HPV types may be involved in a small subset of cancers.
doi:10.1093/jnci/djr499
PMCID: PMC3260131  PMID: 22228147
9.  Genome-wide association studies of gastric adenocarcinoma and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma identify a shared susceptibility locus in PLCE1 at 10q23 
Nature genetics  2010;42(9):764-767.
We conducted a genome-wide association study of gastric cancer (GC) and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) in ethnic Chinese subjects in which we genotyped 551,152 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). We report a combined analysis of 2,240 GC cases, 2,115 ESCC cases, and 3,302 controls drawn from five studies. In logistic regression models adjusted for age, sex, and study, multiple variants at 10q23 had genome-wide significance for GC and ESCC independently. A notable signal was rs2274223, a nonsynonymous SNP located in PLCE1, for GC (P=8.40×10−9; per allele odds ratio (OR) = 1.31) and ESCC (P=3.85×10−9; OR = 1.34). The association with GC differed by anatomic subsite. For tumors located in the cardia the association was stronger (P=4.19 × 10−15; OR= 1.57) and for those located in the noncardia stomach it was absent (P=0.44; OR=1.05). Our findings at 10q23 could provide insight into the high incidence rates of both cancers in China.
doi:10.1038/ng.649
PMCID: PMC2947317  PMID: 20729852
10.  Increased matrix metalloproteinase activation in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
Background
Esophageal squamous cell carcinomas (ESCC) are usually asymptomatic and go undetected until they are incurable. Cytological screening is one strategy to detect ESCC at an early stage and has shown promise in previous studies, although improvement in sensitivity and specificity are needed. Proteases modulate cancer progression by facilitating tumor invasion and metastasis. In the current study, matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) were studied in a search for new early detection markers for ESCC.
Methods
Protein expression levels of MMPs were measured using zymography in 24 cases of paired normal esophagus and ESCC, and in the tumor-associated stroma and tumor epithelium in one sample after laser capture microdissection (LCM). MMP-3 and MMP-10 transcripts in both the epithelium and stroma in five cases were further analyzed by quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR).
Results
Gelatin zymography showed bands corresponding in size to MMP-2, MMP-3, MMP-9, and MMP-10 enzymes in each of the 24 cancer cases. MMP levels tended to be higher in tumors than paired normal tissue; however, only the 45 kDa band that corresponds to the activated form of MMP-3 and MMP-10 was strongly expressed in all 24 tumors with little or no expression in the paired normal foci. LCM-based analysis showed the 45 kDA band to be present in both the stromal and epithelial components of the tumor microenvironment, and that MMP-3 and MMP-10 mRNA levels were higher in tumors than paired normal tissues for each compartment.
Conclusions
Increased levels of MMPs occur in ESCC suggesting their up-regulation is important in esophageal tumorigenesis. The up-regulated gene products have the potential to serve as early detection markers in the clinic.
doi:10.1186/1479-5876-8-91
PMCID: PMC2958908  PMID: 20920372
11.  Control region mutations and the 'common deletion' are frequent in the mitochondrial DNA of patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
BMC Cancer  2004;4:30.
Background
North central China has some of the highest rates of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in the world with cumulative mortality surpassing 20%. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) accumulates more mutations than nuclear DNA and because of its high abundance has been proposed as a early detection device for subjects with cancer at various sites. We wished to examine the prevalence of mtDNA mutation and polymorphism in subjects from this high risk area of China.
Methods
We used DNA samples isolated from tumors, adjacent normal esophageal tissue, and blood from 21 esophageal squamous cell carcinoma cases and DNA isolated from blood from 23 healthy persons. We completely sequenced the control region (D-Loop) from each of these samples and used a PCR assay to assess the presence of the 4977 bp common deletion.
Results
Direct DNA sequencing revealed that 7/21 (33%, 95% CI = 17–55%) tumor samples had mutations in the control region, with clustering evident in the hyper-variable segment 1 (HSV1) and the homopolymeric stretch surrounding position 309. The number of mutations per subject ranged from 1 to 16 and there were a number of instances of heteroplasmy. We detected the 4977 bp 'common deletion' in 92% of the tumor and adjacent normal esophageal tissue samples examined, whereas no evidence of the common deletion was found in corresponding peripheral blood samples.
Conclusions
Control region mutations were insufficiently common to warrant attempts to develop mtDNA mutation screening as a clinical test for ESCC. The common deletion was highly prevalent in the esophageal tissue of cancer cases but absent from peripheral blood. The potential utility of the common deletion in an early detection system will be pursued in further studies.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-4-30
PMCID: PMC459226  PMID: 15230979

Results 1-11 (11)