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1.  Genome-Wide Association Study Reveals Novel Genetic Determinants of DNA Repair Capacity in Lung Cancer 
Cancer research  2012;73(1):256-264.
Suboptimal cellular DNA repair capacity (DRC) has been shown to be associated with enhanced cancer risk, but genetic variants affecting the DRC phenotype have not been comprehensively investigated. In this study, with the available DRC phenotype data, we analyzed correlations between the DRC phenotype and genotypes detected by the Illumina 317K platform in 1,774 individuals of European ancestry from a Texas lung cancer genome-wide association study. The discovery phase was followed by a replication in an independent set of 1,374 cases and controls of European ancestry. We applied a generalized linear model with SNPs as predictors and DRC (a continuous variable) as the outcome. Covariates of age, sex, pack-years of smoking, DRC assay-related variables and case-control status of the study participants were adjusted in the model. We validated that reduced DRC was associated with an increased risk of lung cancer in both independent datasets. Several suggestive loci that contributed to the DRC phenotype were defined in ERCC2/XPD, PHACTR2 and DUSP1. In summary, we determined that DRC is an independent risk factor for lung cancer and we defined several genetic loci contributing to DRC phenotype.
PMCID: PMC3537906  PMID: 23108145
DNA repair capacity; genetic susceptibility; genome-wide association; molecular epidemiology
2.  Genome-wide gene–environment interaction analysis for asbestos exposure in lung cancer susceptibility 
Carcinogenesis  2012;33(8):1531-1537.
Asbestos exposure is a known risk factor for lung cancer. Although recent genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have identified some novel loci for lung cancer risk, few addressed genome-wide gene–environment interactions. To determine gene–asbestos interactions in lung cancer risk, we conducted genome-wide gene–environment interaction analyses at levels of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), genes and pathways, using our published Texas lung cancer GWAS dataset. This dataset included 317 498 SNPs from 1154 lung cancer cases and 1137 cancer-free controls. The initial SNP-level P-values for interactions between genetic variants and self-reported asbestos exposure were estimated by unconditional logistic regression models with adjustment for age, sex, smoking status and pack-years. The P-value for the most significant SNP rs13383928 was 2.17×10–6, which did not reach the genome-wide statistical significance. Using a versatile gene-based test approach, we found that the top significant gene was C7orf54, located on 7q32.1 (P = 8.90×10–5). Interestingly, most of the other significant genes were located on 11q13. When we used an improved gene-set-enrichment analysis approach, we found that the Fas signaling pathway and the antigen processing and presentation pathway were most significant (nominal P < 0.001; false discovery rate < 0.05) among 250 pathways containing 17 572 genes. We believe that our analysis is a pilot study that first describes the gene–asbestos interaction in lung cancer risk at levels of SNPs, genes and pathways. Our findings suggest that immune function regulation-related pathways may be mechanistically involved in asbestos-associated lung cancer risk.
Abbreviations:CIconfidence intervalEenvironmentFDRfalse discovery rateGgeneGSEAgene-set-enrichment analysisGWASgenome-wide association studiesi-GSEAimproved gene-set-enrichment analysis approachORodds ratioSNPsingle nucleotide polymorphism
PMCID: PMC3499061  PMID: 22637743
3.  DNA Repair Capacity in Peripheral Lymphocytes Predicts Survival of Patients With Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer Treated With First-Line Platinum-Based Chemotherapy  
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2011;29(31):4121-4128.
Platinum-based regimens are the standard chemotherapy for patients with advanced non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). DNA repair capacity (DRC) in tumor cells plays an important role in resistance to platinum-based drugs. We have previously reported that efficient DRC, as assessed by an in vitro lymphocyte-based assay, was a determinant of poor survival in patients with NSCLC in a relatively small data set. In this larger independent study of 591 patients with NSCLC, we further evaluated whether DRC in peripheral lymphocytes predicts survival of patients with NSCLC who receive platinum-based chemotherapy.
Patients and Methods
All patients were recruited at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and donated blood samples before the start of any chemotherapy. We measured DRC in cultured T lymphocytes by using the host-cell reactivation assay, and we assessed associations between DRC in peripheral lymphocytes and survival of patients with NSCLC who were treated with first-line platinum-based chemotherapy.
We found an inverse association between DRC in peripheral lymphocytes and patient survival. Compared with patients in the low tertile of DRC, patients with NSCLC in the high tertile of DRC had significantly worse overall and 3-year survival (adjusted hazard ratio [HR], 1.33; 95% CI, 1.04 to 1.71; P = .023; and HR, 1.35; 95% CI, 1.04 to 1.76; P = .025, respectively). This trend was more pronounced in patients with early-stage tumors, adenocarcinoma, or squamous cell carcinoma.
We confirmed that DRC in peripheral lymphocytes is an independent predictor of survival for patients with NSCLC treated with platinum-based chemotherapy.
PMCID: PMC3675702  PMID: 21947825
4.  An analysis of single nucleotide polymorphisms of 125 DNA repair genes in the Texas genome-wide association study of lung cancer with a replication for the XRCC4 SNPs 
DNA repair  2011;10(4):398-407.
DNA repair genes are important for maintaining genomic stability and limiting carcinogenesis. We analyzed all single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of 125 DNA repair genes covered by the Illumina HumanHap300 (v1.1) BeadChips in a previously conducted genome-wide association study (GWAS) of 1,154 lung cancer cases and 1,137 controls and replicated the top-hits of XRCC4 SNPs in an independent set of 597 cases and 611 controls in Texas populations. We found that six of 20 XRCC4 SNPs were associated with a decreased risk of lung cancer with a P value of 0.01 or lower in the discovery dataset, of which the most significant SNP was rs10040363 (P for allelic test = 4.89 ×10−4). Moreover, the data in this region allowed us to impute a potentially functional SNP rs2075685 (imputed P for allelic test = 1.3 ×10−3). A luciferase reporter assay demonstrated that the rs2075685G>T change in the XRCC4 promoter increased expression of the gene. In the replication study of rs10040363, rs1478486, rs9293329, and rs2075685, however, only rs10040363 achieved a borderline association with a decreased risk of lung cancer in a dominant model (adjusted OR = 0.80, 95% CI = 0.62–1.03, P = 0.079). In the final combined analysis of both the Texas GWAS discovery and replication datasets, the strength of the association was increased for rs10040363 (adjusted OR = 0.77, 95% CI = 0.66–0.89, Pdominant = 5×10−4 and P for trend = 5×10−4) and rs1478486 (adjusted OR = 0.82, 95% CI = 0.71 −0.94, Pdominant = 6×10−3 and P for trend = 3.5×10−3). Finally, we conducted a meta-analysis of these XRCC4 SNPs with available data from published GWA studies of lung cancer with a total of 12,312 cases and 47,921 controls, in which none of these XRCC4 SNPs was associated with lung cancer risk. It appeared that rs2075685, although associated with increased expression of a reporter gene and lung cancer risk in the Texas populations, did not have an effect on lung cancer risk in other populations. This study underscores the importance of replication using published data in larger populations.
PMCID: PMC3062723  PMID: 21296624
XRCC4; variant; Genetic susceptibility; genome-wide association study; replication study
5.  Prospective analysis of DNA damage and repair markers of lung cancer risk from the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial 
Carcinogenesis  2010;32(1):69-73.
Mutagen challenge and DNA repair assays have been used in case–control studies for nearly three decades to assess human cancer risk. The findings still engender controversy because blood was drawn after cancer diagnosis so the results may be biased, a type called ‘reverse causation’. We therefore used Epstein–Barr virus-transformed lymphoblastoid cell lines established from prospectively collected peripheral blood samples to evaluate lung cancer risk in relation to three DNA repair assays: alkaline Comet assay, host cell reactivation (HCR) assay with the mutagen benzo[a]pyrene diol epoxide and the bleomycin mutagen sensitivity assay. Cases (n = 117) were diagnosed with lung cancer between 0.3 and 6 years after blood collection and controls (n = 117) were frequency matched on calendar year and age at blood collection, gender and smoking history; all races were included. Case and control status was unknown to laboratory investigators. In unconditional logistic regression analyses, statistically significantly increased lung cancer odds ratios (ORadjusted) were observed for bleomycin mutagen sensitivity as quartiles of chromatid breaks/cell [relative to the lowest quartile, OR = 1.2, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.5–2.5; OR = 1.4, 95% CI: 0.7–3.1; OR = 2.1, 95% CI: 1.0–4.4, respectively, Ptrend = 0.04]. The magnitude of the association between the bleomycin assay and lung cancer risk was modest compared with those reported in previous lung cancer studies but was strengthened when we included only incident cases diagnosed more than a year after blood collection (Ptrend = 0.02), supporting the notion the assay may be a measure of cancer susceptibility. The Comet and HCR assays were unrelated to lung cancer risk.
PMCID: PMC3010173  PMID: 20929901
6.  A functional variant of tandem repeats in human telomerase gene (hTERT) was associated with survival of patients with early stages of non-small cell lung cancer 
Elevated levels of human telomerase (hTERT) mRNA in tumors is a marker for poorer survival in patients with stage I non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). A functional variant of MNS16A-Short tandem repeats in hTERT (S allele) is associated with higher expression levels of hTERT mRNA compared with the MNS16A-long (L) allele. However, it is unknown whether or not the hTERT MNS16A variant genotype predicts survival of NSCLC patients.
Experimental Design
The hTERT genotypes of 808 patients with NSCLC were determined by direct PCR with genomic DNA. Overall median survival times were estimated by the life-table method, and the log-rank test was used to test for homogeneity of the survival curves. Both univariate and multivariate Cox proportional hazards models were used to assess the associations between survival time and the hTERT genotype as well as other known risk factors.
The hTERT variant genotype was not associated with overall survival among the 808 patients. However, among 221 patients with stage I or II NSCLC, the S allele was associated with shorter survival time (P = 0.027, by Log-Rank test). The adjusted hazard ratios (HR) were 1.30 (95% CI = 0.79–2.14, P = 0.310) for the SL-genotype and 2.34 (95% CI = 1.20–4.56, P = 0.012) for the SS-genotype compared with the LL-genotype (P = 0.021 for trend test). These findings were not evident in 587 patients with stage III or IV NSCLC.
The functional MNS16A-SS genotype may be a marker for poorer survival in early stage NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC2905469  PMID: 20466886
NSCLC; VNTR; hTERT; Genotype; Prognosis
7.  Chromosome Instability and Risk of Squamous Cell Carcinomas of Head and Neck 
Cancer research  2008;68(11):4479-4485.
In 895 subjects with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) and 898 cancer-free controls matched by age, sex, and ethnicity, we validated our previous finding that mutagen sensitivity as measured by the frequency of chromatid breaks in vitro induced by benzo[a]pyrene diol epoxide (BPDE) is an independent risk factor for SCCHN. Using a previously established concentration of 4 μM BPDE to treat short-term cultured primary lymphocytes for 5 hours, we evaluated chromatid breaks in 50 well-spread metaphases for each blood sample. The mean frequency of BPDE-induced chromatid breaks was significantly higher in cases than in controls in non-Hispanic whites (P = 0.0003) but not in other ethnic groups (P = 0.549 for Hispanic Americans and 0.257 for African Americans). The odds ratio associated with risk of SCCHN for the frequency of chromatid breaks greater than median value of controls was 1.56 (95% confidence interval, 1.27–1.91) in non-Hispanic whites (767 cases and 763 controls) after adjustment for age, sex, smoking status, and drinking status. When the quartiles of the controls were used as the cutoff values, there was a dose response between the degree of mutagen sensitivity and risk of SCCHN in non-Hispanic whites (Ptrend = 0.0001). However, none of these associations in non-Hispanic whites was identified in Hispanic Americans (69 cases and 70 controls) or African Americans (59 cases and 65 controls), possibly because of the small samples of these ethnic groups or ethnic difference in genetic variation, which needs to be confirmed in future studies.
PMCID: PMC3079380  PMID: 18519711
mutagen sensitivity; genetic susceptibility; molecular epidemiology; chromosome aberration; head and neck cancer
8.  Reduced DNA Repair Capacity for Removing Tobacco Carcinogen-Induced DNA Adducts Contributes to Risk of Head and Neck Cancer but not Tumor Characteristics 
Although cigarette smoking and alcohol use are known risk factors for squamous cell carcinoma of head and neck (SCCHN), only a few exposed individuals develop this disease, suggesting an individual susceptibility. In this study, we investigated the associations between genetically determined DNA repair capacity (DRC) for removing tobacco-induced DNA adducts and risk of SCCHN and tumor characteristics.
Experimental Design
We measured DRC in cultured T-lymphocytes using the host-cell reactivation assay in a hospital-based case-control study of 744 SCCHN patients and 753 age-, sex-and ethnicity-matched cancer-free controls recruited from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.
Patients with SCCHN had significantly lower mean DRC (8.84% ± 2.68%) than controls (9.97% ± 2.61%) (P < 0.0001), and the difference accounted for approximately 2-fold increased risk of SCCHN (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 1.91; 95% CI, 1.52–2.40) after adjustment for other covariates. Compared with the highest DRC quartile of controls, this increased risk was dose-dependent (second highest quartile: OR, 1.40; 95% CI, 0.99–1.98; third quartile: OR, 1.87; 95% CI, 1.34–2.62; and fourth quartile: OR, 2.76; 95% CI, 1.98–3.84, respectively; Ptrend < 0.0001). We also assessed the performance of DRC in risk prediction models by calculating the area of under the receiver operating characteristic curve. The addition of DRC to the model significantly improved the sensitivity of the expanded model. However, we did not find the association between DRC and tumor sites and stages.
DRC is an independent susceptibility biomarker for SCCHN risk but not a tumor marker.
PMCID: PMC2848391  PMID: 20068090
nucleotide excision repair; genetic susceptibility; head and neck neoplasm; molecular epidemiology
9.  Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms in Selected Apoptotic Genes and BPDE-Induced Apoptotic Capacity in Apparently Normal Primary Lymphocytes: A Genotype-Phenotype Correlation Analysis 
Journal of Cancer Epidemiology  2008;2008:147905.
Apoptotic capacity (AC) in primary lymphocytes may be a marker for cancer susceptibility, and functional single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in genes involved in apoptotic pathways may modulate cellular AC in response to DNA damage. To further examine the correlation between apoptotic genotypes and phenotype, we genotyped 14 published SNPs in 11 apoptosis-related genes (i.e., p53, Bcl-2, BAX, CASP9, DR4, Fas, FasL, CASP8, CASP10, CASP3, and CASP7) and assessed the AC in response to benzo[a]pyrene-7,8-9,10-diol epoxide (BPDE) in cultured primary lymphocytes from 172 cancer-free subjects. We found that among these 14 SNPs, R72P, intron 3 16-bp del/ins, and intron 6 G>A in p53, −938C>A in Bcl-2, and I522L in CASP10 were significant predictors of the BPDE-induced lymphocytic AC in single-locus analysis. In the combined analysis of the three p53 variants, we found that the individuals with the diplotypes carrying 0-1 copy of the common p53 R-del-G haplotype had higher AC values compared to other genotypes. Although the study size may not have the statistical power to detect the role of other SNPs in AC, our findings suggest that some SNPs in genes involved in the intrinsic apoptotic pathway may modulate lymphocytic AC in response to BPDE exposure in the general population. Larger studies are needed to validate these findings for further studying individual susceptibility to cancer and other apoptosis-related diseases.
PMCID: PMC2859018  PMID: 20445773
10.  Roles of genetic variants in the PI3K and RAS/RAF pathways in susceptibility to endometrial cancer and clinical outcomes 
The phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/PTEN/AKT/mTOR and Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK pathways have been implicated in endometrial tumorigenesis. In this candidate pathway analysis, we investigated associations between genetic variations in these two pathways and both risk and clinical outcomes of endometrial cancer.
We genotyped a total of 48 potentially functional SNPs in 11 key genes (AKT1, AKT2, AKT3, BRAF, FRAP1, KRAS, PDPK1, PIK3CA, PIK3CB, PIK3R1, and PTEN) with the Sequenom genotyping platform in 115 endometrial cancer patients and 230 cancer-free women to evaluate their associations with risk, survival, and recurrence of endometrial cancer.
We found the following: (1) PIK3CA rs6443624 and rs9838411 variants either borderline or significantly decreased risk of endometrial cancer in a dominant model (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 0.62; 95% CI, 0.39–1.00 and 0.59; 95% CI, 0.36–0.95, respectively). Furthermore, there was a statistically significant multiplicative interaction (Pint = 0.036) between these two loci in risk of endometrial cancer. In contrast, the AKT1 rs2498801 genotype significantly increased risk of endometrial cancer (adjusted OR, 1.94; 95% CI, 1.02–3.67 in a recessive model). (2) In Cox regression analyses, three SNPs (PIK3R1 rs1862162, AKT2 rs892119, and PIK3CA rs2699887) showed significant associations with survival of endometrial cancer patients. (3) KRAS rs7312175 and PIK3CA rs6443624 had significant effects on recurrence of endometrial cancer individually and combined in a locus–dosage manner (adjusted Ptrend = 0.003).
These results suggest that common genetic variations in these pathways may modulate risk and clinical outcomes of endometrial cancer. Further replication and functional studies are needed to confirm these findings.
PMCID: PMC3526101  PMID: 22146979
PI3K/PTEN/AKT/mTOR and RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK pathways; Polymorphisms; Endometrial cancer risk; Survival; Recurrence
11.  Association of a novel functional promoter variant (rs2075533 C>T) in the apoptosis gene TNFSF8 with risk of lung cancer—a finding from Texas lung cancer genome-wide association study 
Carcinogenesis  2011;32(4):507-515.
Published genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have identified few variants in the known biological pathways involved in lung cancer etiology. To mine the possibly hidden causal single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), we explored all SNPs in the extrinsic apoptosis pathway from our published GWAS dataset for 1154 lung cancer cases and 1137 cancer-free controls. In an initial association analysis of 611 tagSNPs in 41 apoptosis-related genes, we identified only 10 tagSNPs associated with lung cancer risk with a P value <10−2, including four tagSNPs in DAPK1 and three tagSNPs in TNFSF8. Unlike DAPK1 SNPs, TNFSF8 rs2181033 tagged other four predicted functional but untyped SNPs (rs776576, rs776577, rs31813148 and rs2075533) in the promoter region. Therefore, we further tested binding affinity of these four SNPs by performing the electrophoretic mobility shift assay. We found that only rs2075533T allele modified levels of nuclear proteins bound to DNA, leading to significantly decreased expression of luciferase reporter constructs by 5- to –10-fold in H1299, HeLa and HCT116 cell lines compared with the C allele. We also performed a replication study of the untyped rs2075533 in an independent Texas population but did not confirm the protective effect. We further performed a mini meta-analysis for SNPs of TNFSF8 obtained from other four published lung cancer GWASs with 12  214 cases and 47  721 controls, and we found that only rs3181366 (r2 = 0.69 with the untyped rs2075533) was associated to lung cancer risk (P = 0.008). Our findings suggest a possible role of novel TNFSF8 variants in susceptibility to lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC3066422  PMID: 21292647

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