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  1. Kar SP, Tyrer JP, Li Q, Lawrenson K, Aben KK, Anton-Culver H, et al.
    Cancer Epidemiol. Biomarkers Prev., 2015 Oct;24(10):1574-84.
    PMID: 26209509 DOI: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-14-1270
    BACKGROUND: Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have so far reported 12 loci associated with serous epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) risk. We hypothesized that some of these loci function through nearby transcription factor (TF) genes and that putative target genes of these TFs as identified by coexpression may also be enriched for additional EOC risk associations.

    METHODS: We selected TF genes within 1 Mb of the top signal at the 12 genome-wide significant risk loci. Mutual information, a form of correlation, was used to build networks of genes strongly coexpressed with each selected TF gene in the unified microarray dataset of 489 serous EOC tumors from The Cancer Genome Atlas. Genes represented in this dataset were subsequently ranked using a gene-level test based on results for germline SNPs from a serous EOC GWAS meta-analysis (2,196 cases/4,396 controls).

    RESULTS: Gene set enrichment analysis identified six networks centered on TF genes (HOXB2, HOXB5, HOXB6, HOXB7 at 17q21.32 and HOXD1, HOXD3 at 2q31) that were significantly enriched for genes from the risk-associated end of the ranked list (P < 0.05 and FDR < 0.05). These results were replicated (P < 0.05) using an independent association study (7,035 cases/21,693 controls). Genes underlying enrichment in the six networks were pooled into a combined network.

    CONCLUSION: We identified a HOX-centric network associated with serous EOC risk containing several genes with known or emerging roles in serous EOC development.

    IMPACT: Network analysis integrating large, context-specific datasets has the potential to offer mechanistic insights into cancer susceptibility and prioritize genes for experimental characterization.

  2. Lawrenson K, Li Q, Kar S, Seo JH, Tyrer J, Spindler TJ, et al.
    Nat Commun, 2015 Sep 22;6:8234.
    PMID: 26391404 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms9234
    Genome-wide association studies have reported 11 regions conferring risk of high-grade serous epithelial ovarian cancer (HGSOC). Expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) analyses can identify candidate susceptibility genes at risk loci. Here we evaluate cis-eQTL associations at 47 regions associated with HGSOC risk (P≤10(-5)). For three cis-eQTL associations (P<1.4 × 10(-3), FDR<0.05) at 1p36 (CDC42), 1p34 (CDCA8) and 2q31 (HOXD9), we evaluate the functional role of each candidate by perturbing expression of each gene in HGSOC precursor cells. Overexpression of HOXD9 increases anchorage-independent growth, shortens population-doubling time and reduces contact inhibition. Chromosome conformation capture identifies an interaction between rs2857532 and the HOXD9 promoter, suggesting this SNP is a leading causal variant. Transcriptomic profiling after HOXD9 overexpression reveals enrichment of HGSOC risk variants within HOXD9 target genes (P=6 × 10(-10) for risk variants (P<10(-4)) within 10 kb of a HOXD9 target gene in ovarian cells), suggesting a broader role for this network in genetic susceptibility to HGSOC.
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