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1.  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
2.  Common genetic variants in cell cycle pathway are associated with survival in stage III–IV non-small-cell lung cancer 
Carcinogenesis  2011;32(12):1867-1871.
Cell cycle progression contributes to the cellular response to DNA-damaging factors, such as chemotherapy and radiation. We hypothesized that the genetic variations in cell cycle pathway genes may modulate treatment responses and affect survival in patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). We genotyped 374 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from 49 cell cycle-related genes in 598 patients with stages III–IV NSCLC treated with first-line platinum-based chemotherapy with/without radiation. We analyzed the individual and combined associations of these SNPs with survival and evaluated their gene–gene interactions using survival tree analysis. In the analysis of survival in all the patients, 39 SNPs reached nominal significance (P < 0.05) and 4 SNPs were significant at P <0.01. However, none of these SNPs remained significant after correction for multiple comparisons at a false discovery rate of 10%. In stratified analysis by treatment modality, after adjusting for multiple comparisons, nine SNPs in chemotherapy alone and one SNP in chemoradiation remained significant. The most significant SNP in chemotherapy group was CCNB2:rs1486878 [hazard ratio (HR) = 1.69, 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.25–2.30, P = 0.001]. TP73: rs3765701 was the only significant SNP in chemoradiation group (HR = 1.87; 95% CI = 1.35–2.59, P = 1.8 × 10−4). In cumulative analysis, we found a significant gene-dosage effect in patients receiving chemotherapy alone. Survival tree analysis demonstrated potential higher order gene–gene and gene–treatment interactions, which could be used to predict survival status based on distinct genetic signatures. These results suggest that genetic variations in cell cycle pathway genes may affect the survival of patients with stages III–IV NSCLC individually and jointly.
PMCID: PMC3220611  PMID: 21965272
3.  Novel genetic variants in the chromosome 5p15.33 region associate with lung cancer risk 
Carcinogenesis  2011;32(10):1493-1499.
Chromosome 5p15.33 has been identified by genome-wide association studies as one of the regions that associate with lung cancer risk. A few single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) and cleft lip and palate transmembrane 1-like (CLPTM1L) genes located in this region have shown consistent associations. We performed dense genotyping of SNPs in this region to refine the previously reported association signals for lung cancer risk. Two hundred and fifteen SNPs were genotyped on an Illumina iSelect panel, in a hospital-based case–control study of 1681 lung cancer cases and 1235 unaffected controls. Association was tested using unconditional logistic regression, while adjusting for age, sex and pack-years smoked. Furthermore, since many of the SNPs were in linkage disequilibrium (LD), haplotype blocks were constructed, from which tagging SNPs at an r2 threshold of ≥0.95 were included in a stepwise forward selection logistic regression model. Of the 215 SNPs, 69 were significant at P < 0.05 in univariate analysis; of these, 35 SNPs meeting the r2 threshold were included in the multiple logistic regression model. Two SNPs, rs370348 (odds ratio = 0.76, P = 1.6 × 10−6) and rs4975538 (odds ratio = 1.18, P = 0.005), significantly associated with risk in the overall sample. Among ever smokers, rs4975615 (odds ratio = 0.75, P = 1.2 × 10−4) and rs4975538 (odds ratio = 1.26, P = 0.002) were significant, whereas among never-smokers, rs451360 (odds ratio = 0.62, P = 7.6 × 10−5) was significant. We refined the consistent association signal in this region, allowing for the considerable LD between SNPs and identified four novel SNPs that were independently and significantly associated with lung cancer risk. Results of these analyses strongly suggest effects on risk from several loci in the TERT/CLPTM1L region.
PMCID: PMC3179422  PMID: 21771723
4.  Genetic variations in the transforming growth factor-beta pathway as predictors of survival in advanced non-small cell lung cancer 
Carcinogenesis  2011;32(7):1050-1056.
The magnitude of benefit is variable for advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients receiving platinum-based chemotherapy. The purpose of this study is to determine whether genetic variations in the transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) pathway are associated with clinical outcomes in NSCLC patients receiving first-line platinum-based chemotherapy. Five hundred and ninety-eight advanced-stage NSCLC patients who received first-line platinum-based chemotherapy with or without radiotherapy were recruited at the MD Anderson Cancer Center between 1995 and 2007. DNA from blood was genotyped for 227 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 23 TGF-β pathway-related genes to evaluate their associations with overall survival. In individual SNP analysis, 22 variants were significantly associated with overall survival, of which the strongest associations were found for BMP2:rs235756 [hazard ratio (HR) = 1.45; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.11–1.90] and SMAD3:rs4776342 (HR = 1.25; 95% CI, 1.06–1.47). Fifteen and 18 genetic loci displayed treatment-specific associations for chemotherapy and chemoradiation, respectively, identifying a majority of the cases who would be predicted to respond favorably to a specific treatment regimen. BMP2:rs235753 and a haplotype in SMAD3 were associated with overall survival for both treatment modalities. Cumulative effect analysis showed that multiple risk genotypes had a significant dose-dependent effect on overall survival (Ptrend = 2.44 x 10−15). Survival tree analysis identified subgroups of patients with dramatically different median survival times of 45.39 versus 13.55 months and 18.02 versus 5.89 months for high- and low- risk populations when treated with chemoradiation and chemotherapy, respectively. These results suggest that genetic variations in the TGF-β pathway are potential predictors of overall survival in NSCLC patients treated with platinum-based chemotherapy with or without radiation.
PMCID: PMC3128559  PMID: 21515830
5.  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
6.  Admixture mapping of lung cancer in 1812 African-Americans 
Carcinogenesis  2010;32(3):312-317.
Lung cancer continues to be the leading cause of cancer death in the USA and the best example of a cancer with undisputed evidence of environmental risk. However, a genetic contribution to lung cancer has also been demonstrated by studies of familial aggregation, family-based linkage, candidate gene studies and most recently genome-wide association studies (GWAS). The African-American population has been underrepresented in these genetic studies and has patterns of cigarette use and linkage disequilibrium that differ from patterns in other populations. Therefore, studies in African-Americans can provide complementary data to localize lung cancer susceptibility genes and explore smoking dependence-related genes. We used admixture mapping to further characterize genetic risk of lung cancer in a series of 837 African-American lung cancer cases and 975 African-American controls genotyped at 1344 ancestry informative single-nucleotide polymorphisms. Both case-only and case–control analyses were conducted using ADMIXMAP adjusted for age, sex, pack-years of smoking, family history of lung cancer, history of emphysema and study site. In case-only analyses, excess European ancestry was observed over a wide region on chromosome 1 with the largest excess seen at rs6587361 for non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) (Z-score = −4.33; P = 1.5 × 10−5) and for women with NSCLC (Z-score = −4.82; P = 1.4 × 10−6). Excess African ancestry was also observed on chromosome 3q with a peak Z-score of 3.33 (P = 0.0009) at rs181696 among ever smokers with NSCLC. These results add to the findings from the GWAS in Caucasian populations and suggest novel regions of interest.
PMCID: PMC3047238  PMID: 21115650
7.  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
8.  MicroRNA-related genetic variations as predictors for risk of second primary tumor and/or recurrence in patients with early-stage head and neck cancer 
Carcinogenesis  2010;31(12):2118-2123.
Second primary tumor (SPT) and/or recurrence negatively impact the prognosis of patients with curatively treated early-stage head and neck cancer. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play important roles in cancer development. We explored whether the variations of miRNA-related pathway were associated with the risk of SPT/recurrence in patients with early-stage head and neck cancer. This study includes 150 early-stage head and neck cancer patients with SPT/recurrence and 300 patients without SPT/recurrence. Two hundred and thirty-five tagging and potentially functional single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were genotyped from eight miRNA biogenesis pathway genes and 135 miRNA-targeted genes. Eighteen miRNA-related SNPs were significantly associated with the risk of SPT/recurrence. The most significant SNP was rs3747238, a miRNA-binding site SNP in SMC1B. The variant homozygous genotype of this SNP was associated with a 1.74-fold increased risk [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.19–2.54; P = 0.004]. Cumulative effect analysis showed joint effects for the number of unfavorable genotype in patients. Survival tree analysis further identified the high-order gene–gene interactions and categorized the study subjects into low-, medium- and high-risk groups. Patients in the high-risk group had a 4.84-fold increased risk (95% CI: 3.11–7.51; P = 2.45 × 10−12) and a shorter event-free median survival time of 37.9 months (log rank P = 2.28 × 10−13). Our results suggested that miRNA-related genetic polymorphisms may be used individually and jointly to predict the risk of SPT/recurrence of early-stage head and neck cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC3105587  PMID: 20819778
9.  The evolving discipline of molecular epidemiology of cancer 
Carcinogenesis  2009;31(1):127-134.
Classical epidemiologic studies have made seminal contributions to identifying the etiology of most common cancers. Molecular epidemiology was conceived of as an extension of traditional epidemiology to incorporate biomarkers with questionnaire data to further our understanding of the mechanisms of carcinogenesis. Early molecular epidemiologic studies employed functional assays. These studies were hampered by the need for sequential and/or prediagnostic samples, viable lymphocytes and the uncertainty of how well these functional data (derived from surrogate lymphocytic tissue) reflected events in the target tissue. The completion of the Human Genome Project and Hapmap Project, together with the unparalleled advances in high-throughput genotyping revolutionized the practice of molecular epidemiology. Early studies had been constrained by existing technology to use the hypothesis-driven candidate gene approach, with disappointing results. Pathway analysis addressed some of the concerns, although the study of interacting and overlapping gene networks remained a challenge. Whole-genome scanning approaches were designed as agnostic studies using a dense set of markers to capture much of the common genome variation to study germ-line genetic variation as risk factors for common complex diseases. It should be possible to exploit the wealth of these data for pharmacogenetic studies to realize the promise of personalized therapy. Going forward, the temptation for epidemiologists to be lured by high-tech ‘omics’ will be immense. Systems Epidemiology, the observational prototype of systems biology, is an extension of classical epidemiology to include powerful new platforms such as the transcriptome, proteome and metabolome. However, there will always be the need for impeccably designed and well-powered epidemiologic studies with rigorous quality control of data, specimen acquisition and statistical analysis.
PMCID: PMC2802669  PMID: 20022891
10.  Dietary magnesium and DNA repair capacity as risk factors for lung cancer 
Carcinogenesis  2008;29(5):949-956.
Magnesium (Mg) is required for maintenance of genomic stability; however, data on the relationship between dietary Mg intake and lung cancer are lacking. In an ongoing lung cancer case–control study, we identified 1139 cases and 1210 matched healthy controls with data on both diet and DNA repair capacity (DRC). Dietary intake was assessed using a modified Block-NCI food frequency questionnaire and DRC was measured using the host-cell reactivation assay to assess repair in lymphocyte cultures. After adjustment for potential confounding factors including DRC, the odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for lung cancer with increasing quartiles of dietary Mg intake were 1.0, 0.83 (0.66–1.05), 0.64 (0.50–0.83) and 0.47 (0.36–0.61), respectively, for all subjects (P-trend < 0.0001). Similar results were observed by histology and clinical stage of lung cancer. Low dietary Mg intake was associated with poorer DRC and increased risk of lung cancer. In joint effects analyses, compared with those with high dietary Mg intake and proficient DRC, the OR (95% CI) for lung cancer in the presence of both low dietary Mg and suboptimal DRC was 2.36 (1.83–3.04). Similar results were observed for men and women. The effects were more pronounced among older subjects (>60 years), current or heavier smokers, drinkers, those with a family history of cancer in first-degree relatives, small cell lung cancer and late-stage disease. These intriguing results need to be confirmed in prospective studies.
PMCID: PMC2902380  PMID: 18448487

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