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1.  Evolutionary evidence of the effect of rare variants on disease etiology 
Clinical genetics  2010;79(3):199-206.
The common disease/common variant hypothesis has been popular for describing the genetic architecture of common human diseases for several years. According to the originally stated hypothesis, one or a few common genetic variants with a relatively large effect size control the risk of common diseases. A growing body of evidence, however, suggests that rare single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), i.e., those with a minor allele frequency of less than 5%, are also an important component of the genetic architecture of common human diseases. In this study, we analyzed the relevance of rare SNPs to the risk of common disease from an evolutionary perspective and found that rare SNPs are more likely than common SNPs to be functional and tend to have a stronger effect size than do common SNPs. This observation, plus the fact that most of the SNPs in the human genome are rare, suggests that rare SNPs are a crucial element of the genetic architecture of common human diseases. We propose that the next generation of genomic studies should focus on analyzing rare SNPs. Further, targeting patients with a family history of the disease, an extreme phenotype, or early disease onset may facilitate the detection of risk-associated rare SNPs.
PMCID: PMC3652532  PMID: 20831747
Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs); Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS); Minor Allele Frequency (MAF); negative selection
2.  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
3.  A genetic variant near the PMAIP1/Noxa gene is associated with increased bleomycin sensitivity 
Human Molecular Genetics  2010;20(4):820-826.
Mutagen sensitivity, a measurement of chromatid breaks induced by various mutagens in short-term cultures of peripheral blood lymphocytes, is an established risk factor for a number of cancers and is highly heritable. The purpose of this study is to identify genetic predictors of mutagen sensitivity. Therefore, we conducted a multi-stage genome-wide association study. The primary scan analyzed 539 437 autosomal SNPs in 673 healthy individuals, followed by validations in two independent sets of 575 and 259 healthy individuals, respectively. One SNP, rs8093763, on chromosome 18q21 showed significant association with bleomycin (BLM) sensitivity (combined P = 2.64 × 10−8). We observed significantly lower BLM-induced chromotid breaks for genotypes containing wild-type allele compared with the homozygous variant genotype in the discovery set (0.71 versus 0.90, P= 3.77 × 10−5) and in replication phase 1 (0.61 versus 0.84, P= 7.00 × 10−5). The result of replication phase 2 was not statistically significant (0.65 versus 0.68, P= 0.44). This SNP is approximately 64 kb from PMAIP1/Noxa, which is a radiation-inducible gene and exhibits higher expression in BLM-sensitive lymphoblastoid cell lines than insensitive cell lines upon BLM treatment. In conclusion, we identified a biologically plausible genetic variant on 18q21 near the PMAIP1/Noxa gene that is associated with BLM sensitivity.
PMCID: PMC3024041  PMID: 21106707
4.  PI3K/PTEN/AKT/mTOR Pathway Genetic Variation Predicts Toxicity and Distant Progression in Lung Cancer Patients Receiving Platinum-based Chemotherapy 
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is still the leading cause of cancer-related deaths. The effect of the PI3K/PTEN/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway on cancer treatment, including NSCLC, has been well documented. In this study, we analyzed associations between genetic variations within this pathway and clinical outcomes following platinum-based chemotherapy in 168 patients with stage IIIB (wet) or stage IV NSCLC. Sixteen tagging SNPs in five core genes (PIK3CA, PTEN, AKT1, AKT2, and FRAP1) of this pathway and identified SNPs associated with development of toxicity and disease progression. We observed significantly increased toxicity for patients with PIK3CA:rs2699887 (OR: 3.86, 95% CI: 1.08 – 13.82). In contrast, a SNP in PTEN was associated with significantly reduced risk for chemotherapeutic toxicity (OR: 0.44, 95% CI: 0.20 - 0.95). We identified three SNPs in AKT1 resulting in significantly decreased risks of distant progression in patients carrying at least one variant allele with HRs of 0.66 (95% CI: 0.45 - 0.97), 0.52 (95% CI: 0.35 - 0.77), and 0.62 (95% CI: 0.42 - 0.91) for rs3803304, rs2498804, and rs1130214, respectively. Furthermore, these same variants conferred nearly two-fold increased progression-free survival times. The current study provides evidence that genetic variations within the PI3K/PTEN/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway are associated with variation in clinical outcomes of NSCLC patients. With further validation, our findings may provide additional biomarkers for customized treatment of platinum-based chemotherapy for NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC2952281  PMID: 20447721
lung cancer; chemotherapy; platinum-agents; AKT; clinical outcomes
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
7.  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
8.  Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor Region on Chromosome 15q25 and Lung Cancer Risk Among African Americans: A Case–Control Study 
Genome-wide association studies of white persons with lung cancer have identified a region of extensive linkage disequilibrium on chromosome 15q25.1 that appears to be associated with both risk for lung cancer and smoking dependence. Because studying African American persons, who exhibit lower levels of linkage disequilibrium in this region, may identify additional loci that are associated with lung cancer, we genotyped 34 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in this region (including LOC123688, PSMA4, CHRNA5, CHRNA3, and CHRNB4 genes) in 467 African American patients with lung cancer and 388 frequency-matched African American control subjects. Associations of SNPs in LOC123688 (rs10519203; odds ratio [OR] = 1.60, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.25 to 2.05, P = .00016), CHRNA5 (rs2036527; OR = 1.67, 95% CI = 1.26 to 2.21, P = .00031), and CHRNA3 (rs1051730; OR = 1.81, 95% CI = 1.26 to 2.59, P = .00137) genes with lung cancer risk reached Bonferroni-corrected levels of statistical significance (all statistical tests were two-sided). Joint logistic regression analysis showed that rs684513 (OR = 0.47, 95% CI = 0.31 to 0.71, P = .0003) in CHRNA5 and rs8034191 (OR = 1.76, 95% CI = 1.23 to 2.52, P = .002) in LOC123688 were also associated with risk. The functional A variant of rs1696698 in CHRNA5 had the strongest association with lung cancer (OR = 1.98, 95% CI = 1.25 to 3.11, P = .003). These SNPs were primarily associated with increased risk for lung adenocarcinoma histology and were only weakly associated with smoking phenotypes. Thus, among African American persons, multiple loci in the region of chromosome 15q25.1 appear to be strongly associated with lung cancer risk.
PMCID: PMC2914761  PMID: 20554942
9.  Genetically Abnormal Circulating Cells in Lung Cancer Patients: An Antigen Independent Fluorescence in-situ Hybridization Based Case-Control Study 
We performed a study to determine if a fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH)-based assay using isolated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) with DNA probes targeting specific sites on chromosomes known to have abnormalities in Non Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) cases could detect circulating genetically abnormal cells (CACs).
Experimental Design
We evaluated 59 NSCLC cases with stage I through IV disease and 24 controls. PBMCs and matched tumors were hybridized with 2 two-color (3p22.1/CEP3 and 10q22.3 [SP-A]/CEP10) and 2 four-color (CEP3, CEP7, CEP17, and 9p21.3 [URO]) and (EGFR, c-MYC, 6p11-q11, and 5p15.2 [LAV]) FISH probes. Percentages of cytogenetically abnormal cells (CACs) in peripheral blood and in matched tumor specimens were quantified using an automated fluorescent scanner. Numbers of CACs were calculated based on the percentage of CACs (defined as PBMCs with genetic abnormalities) per mL of blood and expressed per microliter of blood.
Patients with NSCLC had significantly higher numbers of CACs than did controls. Mean number of CACs ranged from 7.23±1.32/μl for deletions of 10q22.3/CEP10 to 45.52±7.49/μl for deletions of 3p22.1/CEP3. Numbers of CACs with deletions of 3p22.1, 10q22.3, and 9p21.3, and gains of URO, increased significantly from early to advanced stage of disease.
We have developed a sensitive and quantitative antigen-independent FISH-based test for detecting CACs in peripheral blood of patients with NSCLC which showed a significant correlation with the presence of cancer. If this pilot study can be validated in a larger study, CACs may have a role in the management of patients with NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC2949278  PMID: 20651054
10.  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
Cancer  2010;116(14):3458-3462.
Recent genome-wide association (GWA) studies of lung cancer have shown that the CHRNA5-A3 region on chromosome 15q24-25.1 is strongly associated with an increased risk of lung cancer and nicotine dependence, and thought to be associated with chronic obstructive airways disease as well. However, it has not been established whether the association between genetic variants and lung cancer risk is a direct one or one mediated by nicotine dependence.
In this paper we applied a rigorous statistical approach, mediation analysis, to examine the mediating effect of smoking behavior and self-reported physician-diagnosed emphysema (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD]) on the relationship between the CHRNA5-A3 region genetic variant rs1051730 and the risk of lung cancer.
Our results showed that rs1051730 is directly associated with lung cancer risk, but that it is also associated with lung cancer risk through its effect on both smoking behavior and COPD. Furthermore, we showed that COPD is a mediating phenotype that explains part of the effect of smoking behavior on lung cancer. Our results also suggested that smoking behavior is a mediator of the relationship between rs1051730 and COPD risk.
Smoking behavior and COPD are mediators of the association between the SNP rs1051730 and the risk of lung cancer. Also, COPD is a mediator of the association between smoking behavior and lung cancer. Finally, smoking behavior also has mediating effects on the association between the SNP and COPD.
PMCID: PMC3073819  PMID: 20564069
Lung Cancer; COPD; Mediation analysis; smoking behavior; genetic variants
12.  Replication of Lung Cancer Susceptibility Loci at Chromosomes 15q25, 5p15, and 6p21: A Pooled Analysis From the International Lung Cancer Consortium 
Genome-wide association studies have identified three chromosomal regions at 15q25, 5p15, and 6p21 as being associated with the risk of lung cancer. To confirm these associations in independent studies and investigate heterogeneity of these associations within specific subgroups, we conducted a coordinated genotyping study within the International Lung Cancer Consortium based on independent studies that were not included in previous genome-wide association studies.
Genotype data for single-nucleotide polymorphisms at chromosomes 15q25 (rs16969968, rs8034191), 5p15 (rs2736100, rs402710), and 6p21 (rs2256543, rs4324798) from 21 case–control studies for 11 645 lung cancer case patients and 14 954 control subjects, of whom 85% were white and 15% were Asian, were pooled. Associations between the variants and the risk of lung cancer were estimated by logistic regression models. All statistical tests were two-sided.
Associations between 15q25 and the risk of lung cancer were replicated in white ever-smokers (rs16969968: odds ratio [OR] = 1.26, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.21 to 1.32, Ptrend = 2 × 10−26), and this association was stronger for those diagnosed at younger ages. There was no association in never-smokers or in Asians between either of the 15q25 variants and the risk of lung cancer. For the chromosome 5p15 region, we confirmed statistically significant associations in whites for both rs2736100 (OR = 1.15, 95% CI = 1.10 to 1.20, Ptrend = 1 × 10−10) and rs402710 (OR = 1.14, 95% CI = 1.09 to 1.19, Ptrend = 5 × 10−8) and identified similar associations in Asians (rs2736100: OR = 1.23, 95% CI = 1.12 to 1.35, Ptrend = 2 × 10−5; rs402710: OR = 1.15, 95% CI = 1.04 to 1.27, Ptrend = .007). The associations between the 5p15 variants and lung cancer differed by histology; odds ratios for rs2736100 were highest in adenocarcinoma and for rs402710 were highest in adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinomas. This pattern was observed in both ethnic groups. Neither of the two variants on chromosome 6p21 was associated with the risk of lung cancer.
In this international genetic association study of lung cancer, previous associations found in white populations were replicated and new associations were identified in Asian populations. Future genetic studies of lung cancer should include detailed stratification by histology.
PMCID: PMC2897877  PMID: 20548021
13.  Genetic variants and risk of lung cancer in never smokers: a genome-wide association study 
The lancet oncology  2010;11(4):321-330.
Lung cancer in individuals who have never smoked tobacco products is an increasing medical and public-health issue. We aimed to unravel the genetic basis of lung cancer in never smokers.
We did a four-stage investigation. First, a genome-wide association study of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) was done with 754 never smokers (377 matched case-control pairs at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA). Second, the top candidate SNPs from the first study were validated in two independent studies among 735 (MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA) and 253 (Harvard University, Boston, MA, USA) never smokers. Third, further replication of the top SNP was done in 530 never smokers (UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, USA). Fourth, expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) and gene-expression differences were analysed to further elucidate the causal relation between the validated SNPs and the risk of lung cancer in never smokers.
44 top candidate SNPs were identified that might alter the risk of lung cancer in never smokers. rs2352028 at chromosome 13q31.3 was subsequently replicated with an additive genetic model in the four independent studies, with a combined odds ratio of 1·46 (95% CI 1·26–1·70, p=5·94×10−6). A cis eQTL analysis showed there was a strong correlation between genotypes of the replicated SNPs and the transcription level of the gene GPC5 in normal lung tissues (p=1·96×10−4), with the high-risk allele linked with lower expression. Additionally, the transcription level of GPC5 in normal lung tissue was twice that detected in matched lung adenocarcinoma tissue (p=6·75×10−11).
Genetic variants at 13q31.3 alter the expression of GPC5, and are associated with susceptibility to lung cancer in never smokers. Downregulation of GPC5 might contribute to the development of lung cancer in never smokers.
PMCID: PMC2945218  PMID: 20304703
14.  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
15.  Cancer Pharmacogenomics and Pharmacoepidemiology: Setting a Research Agenda to Accelerate Translation 
Recent advances in genomic research have demonstrated a substantial role for genomic factors in predicting response to cancer therapies. Researchers in the fields of cancer pharmacogenomics and pharmacoepidemiology seek to understand why individuals respond differently to drug therapy, in terms of both adverse effects and treatment efficacy. To identify research priorities as well as the resources and infrastructure needed to advance these fields, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) sponsored a workshop titled “Cancer Pharmacogenomics: Setting a Research Agenda to Accelerate Translation” on July 21, 2009, in Bethesda, MD. In this commentary, we summarize and discuss five science-based recommendations and four infrastructure-based recommendations that were identified as a result of discussions held during this workshop. Key recommendations include 1) supporting the routine collection of germline and tumor biospecimens in NCI-sponsored clinical trials and in some observational and population-based studies; 2) incorporating pharmacogenomic markers into clinical trials; 3) addressing the ethical, legal, social, and biospecimen- and data-sharing implications of pharmacogenomic and pharmacoepidemiologic research; and 4) establishing partnerships across NCI, with other federal agencies, and with industry. Together, these recommendations will facilitate the discovery and validation of clinical, sociodemographic, lifestyle, and genomic markers related to cancer treatment response and adverse events, and they will improve both the speed and efficiency by which new pharmacogenomic and pharmacoepidemiologic information is translated into clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC2982809  PMID: 20944079
16.  Genetic Variants in Inflammation-Related Genes Are Associated with Radiation-Induced Toxicity Following Treatment for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(8):e12402.
Treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with radiotherapy or chemoradiotherapy is often accompanied by the development of esophagitis and pneumonitis. Identifying patients who might be at increased risk for normal tissue toxicity would help in determination of the optimal radiation dose to avoid these events. We profiled 59 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from 37 inflammation-related genes in 173 NSCLC patients with stage IIIA/IIIB (dry) disease who were treated with definitive radiation or chemoradiation. For esophagitis risk, nine SNPs were associated with a 1.5- to 4-fold increase in risk, including three PTGS2 (COX2) variants: rs20417 (HR:1.93, 95% CI:1.10–3.39), rs5275 (HR:1.58, 95% CI:1.09–2.27), and rs689470 (HR:3.38, 95% CI:1.09–10.49). Significantly increased risk of pneumonitis was observed for patients with genetic variation in the proinflammatory genes IL1A, IL8, TNF, TNFRSF1B, and MIF. In contrast, NOS3:rs1799983 displayed a protective effect with a 45% reduction in pneumonitis risk (HR:0.55, 95% CI:0.31–0.96). Pneumonitis risk was also modulated by polymorphisms in anti-inflammatory genes, including genetic variation in IL13. rs20541 and rs180925 each resulted in increased risk (HR:2.95, 95% CI:1.14–7.63 and HR:3.23, 95% CI:1.03–10.18, respectively). The cumulative effect of these SNPs on risk was dose-dependent, as evidenced by a significantly increased risk of either toxicity with an increasing number of risk genotypes (P<0.001). These results suggest that genetic variations among inflammation pathway genes may modulate the development of radiation-induced toxicity and, ultimately, help in identifying patients who are at an increased likelihood for such events.
PMCID: PMC2928273  PMID: 20811626
17.  Rapid method for determination of DNA repair capacity in human peripheral blood lymphocytes amongst smokers 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:439.
DNA repair capacity is an important determinant of susceptibility to cancer. The hOGG1 enzyme is crucial for repairing the 8-oxoguanine lesion that occurs either as a byproduct of oxidative metabolism or as a result of exogenous sources such as exposure to cigarette smoke. It has been previously reported that smokers with low hOGG1 activity had significantly higher risk of developing lung cancer as compared to smokers with high hOGG1 activity.
In the current study we elucidate the association between plasma levels of 8-OHdG and the OGG1 repair capacity. We used the commercially available 8-OHdG ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay), the Comet assay/FLARE hOGG1 (Fragment Length Analysis by Repair Enzymes) assay for quantification of the levels of 8-OHdG and measured the constitutive, induced and unrepaired residual damage, respectively. We compared the DNA repair capacity in peripheral blood lymphocytes following H2O2 exposure in 30 lung cancer patients, 30 non-, 30 former and 30 current smoker controls matched by age and gender.
Our results show that lung cancer cases and current smoker controls have similar levels of 8-OHdG lesions that are significantly higher compared to the non-smokers controls. However, lung cancer cases showed significantly poorer repair capacity compared to all controls tested, including the current smokers controls. After adjustment for age, gender and family history of smoking-related cancer using linear regression, we observed a 5-fold increase in risk of lung cancer associated with high levels of residual damage/reduced repair capacity. Reduced OGG1 activity could be expected to be a risk factor in other smoking-related cancers.
Our study shows that the Comet/FLARE assay is a relatively rapid and useful method for determination of DNA repair capacity. Using this assay we could identify individuals with high levels of residual damage and hence poor repair capacity who would be good candidates for intensive follow-up and screening.
PMCID: PMC2933626  PMID: 20718982
18.  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.
PMCID: PMC2916847  PMID: 20700436
19.  Evaluation of Association of HNF1B Variants with Diverse Cancers: Collaborative Analysis of Data from 19 Genome-Wide Association Studies 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(5):e10858.
Genome-wide association studies have found type 2 diabetes-associated variants in the HNF1B gene to exhibit reciprocal associations with prostate cancer risk. We aimed to identify whether these variants may have an effect on cancer risk in general versus a specific effect on prostate cancer only.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In a collaborative analysis, we collected data from GWAS of cancer phenotypes for the frequently reported variants of HNF1B, rs4430796 and rs7501939, which are in linkage disequilibrium (r2 = 0.76, HapMap CEU). Overall, the analysis included 16 datasets on rs4430796 with 19,640 cancer cases and 21,929 controls; and 21 datasets on rs7501939 with 26,923 cases and 49,085 controls. Malignancies other than prostate cancer included colorectal, breast, lung and pancreatic cancers, and melanoma. Meta-analysis showed large between-dataset heterogeneity that was driven by different effects in prostate cancer and other cancers. The per-T2D-risk-allele odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) for rs4430796 were 0.79 (0.76, 0.83)] per G allele for prostate cancer (p<10−15 for both); and 1.03 (0.99, 1.07) for all other cancers. Similarly for rs7501939 the per-T2D-risk-allele odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) were 0.80 (0.77, 0.83) per T allele for prostate cancer (p<10−15 for both); and 1.00 (0.97, 1.04) for all other cancers. No malignancy other than prostate cancer had a nominally statistically significant association.
The examined HNF1B variants have a highly specific effect on prostate cancer risk with no apparent association with any of the other studied cancer types.
PMCID: PMC2878330  PMID: 20526366

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