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  1. Wen WX, Allen J, Lai KN, Mariapun S, Hasan SN, Ng PS, et al.
    J. Med. Genet., 2018 02;55(2):97-103.
    PMID: 28993434 DOI: 10.1136/jmedgenet-2017-104947
    BACKGROUND: Genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 is offered typically to selected women based on age of onset and family history of cancer. However, current internationally accepted genetic testing referral guidelines are built mostly on data from cancer genetics clinics in women of European descent. To evaluate the appropriateness of such guidelines in Asians, we have determined the prevalence of germ line variants in an unselected cohort of Asian patients with breast cancer and healthy controls.

    METHODS: Germ line DNA from a hospital-based study of 2575 unselected patients with breast cancer and 2809 healthy controls were subjected to amplicon-based targeted sequencing of exonic and proximal splice site junction regions of BRCA1 and BRCA2 using the Fluidigm Access Array system, with sequencing conducted on a Illumina HiSeq2500 platform. Variant calling was performed with GATK UnifiedGenotyper and were validated by Sanger sequencing.

    RESULTS: Fifty-five (2.1%) BRCA1 and 66 (2.6%) BRCA2 deleterious mutations were identified among patients with breast cancer and five (0.18%) BRCA1 and six (0.21%) BRCA2 mutations among controls. One thousand one hundred and eighty-six (46%) patients and 97 (80%) carriers fulfilled the National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines for genetic testing.

    CONCLUSION: Five per cent of unselected Asian patients with breast cancer carry deleterious variants in BRCA1 or BRCA2. While current referral guidelines identified the majority of carriers, one in two patients would be referred for genetic services. Given that such services are largely unavailable in majority of low-resource settings in Asia, our study highlights the need for more efficient guidelines to identify at-risk individuals in Asia.

  2. Horne HN, Chung CC, Zhang H, Yu K, Prokunina-Olsson L, Michailidou K, et al.
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(8):e0160316.
    PMID: 27556229 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0160316
    The Cancer Genetic Markers of Susceptibility genome-wide association study (GWAS) originally identified a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs11249433 at 1p11.2 associated with breast cancer risk. To fine-map this locus, we genotyped 92 SNPs in a 900kb region (120,505,799-121,481,132) flanking rs11249433 in 45,276 breast cancer cases and 48,998 controls of European, Asian and African ancestry from 50 studies in the Breast Cancer Association Consortium. Genotyping was done using iCOGS, a custom-built array. Due to the complicated nature of the region on chr1p11.2: 120,300,000-120,505,798, that lies near the centromere and contains seven duplicated genomic segments, we restricted analyses to 429 SNPs excluding the duplicated regions (42 genotyped and 387 imputed). Per-allelic associations with breast cancer risk were estimated using logistic regression models adjusting for study and ancestry-specific principal components. The strongest association observed was with the original identified index SNP rs11249433 (minor allele frequency (MAF) 0.402; per-allele odds ratio (OR) = 1.10, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.08-1.13, P = 1.49 x 10-21). The association for rs11249433 was limited to ER-positive breast cancers (test for heterogeneity P≤8.41 x 10-5). Additional analyses by other tumor characteristics showed stronger associations with moderately/well differentiated tumors and tumors of lobular histology. Although no significant eQTL associations were observed, in silico analyses showed that rs11249433 was located in a region that is likely a weak enhancer/promoter. Fine-mapping analysis of the 1p11.2 breast cancer susceptibility locus confirms this region to be limited to risk to cancers that are ER-positive.
  3. Chornokur G, Lin HY, Tyrer JP, Lawrenson K, Dennis J, Amankwah EK, et al.
    PLoS ONE, 2015;10(6):e0128106.
    PMID: 26091520 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0128106
    BACKGROUND: Defective cellular transport processes can lead to aberrant accumulation of trace elements, iron, small molecules and hormones in the cell, which in turn may promote the formation of reactive oxygen species, promoting DNA damage and aberrant expression of key regulatory cancer genes. As DNA damage and uncontrolled proliferation are hallmarks of cancer, including epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC), we hypothesized that inherited variation in the cellular transport genes contributes to EOC risk.

    METHODS: In total, DNA samples were obtained from 14,525 case subjects with invasive EOC and from 23,447 controls from 43 sites in the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium (OCAC). Two hundred seventy nine SNPs, representing 131 genes, were genotyped using an Illumina Infinium iSelect BeadChip as part of the Collaborative Oncological Gene-environment Study (COGS). SNP analyses were conducted using unconditional logistic regression under a log-additive model, and the FDR q<0.2 was applied to adjust for multiple comparisons.

    RESULTS: The most significant evidence of an association for all invasive cancers combined and for the serous subtype was observed for SNP rs17216603 in the iron transporter gene HEPH (invasive: OR = 0.85, P = 0.00026; serous: OR = 0.81, P = 0.00020); this SNP was also associated with the borderline/low malignant potential (LMP) tumors (P = 0.021). Other genes significantly associated with EOC histological subtypes (p<0.05) included the UGT1A (endometrioid), SLC25A45 (mucinous), SLC39A11 (low malignant potential), and SERPINA7 (clear cell carcinoma). In addition, 1785 SNPs in six genes (HEPH, MGST1, SERPINA, SLC25A45, SLC39A11 and UGT1A) were imputed from the 1000 Genomes Project and examined for association with INV EOC in white-European subjects. The most significant imputed SNP was rs117729793 in SLC39A11 (per allele, OR = 2.55, 95% CI = 1.5-4.35, p = 5.66x10-4).

    CONCLUSION: These results, generated on a large cohort of women, revealed associations between inherited cellular transport gene variants and risk of EOC histologic subtypes.

  4. 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.
  5. Amankwah EK, Lin HY, Tyrer JP, Lawrenson K, Dennis J, Chornokur G, et al.
    Genet. Epidemiol., 2015 Dec;39(8):689-97.
    PMID: 26399219 DOI: 10.1002/gepi.21921
    Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a process whereby epithelial cells assume mesenchymal characteristics to facilitate cancer metastasis. However, EMT also contributes to the initiation and development of primary tumors. Prior studies that explored the hypothesis that EMT gene variants contribute to epithelial ovarian carcinoma (EOC) risk have been based on small sample sizes and none have sought replication in an independent population. We screened 15,816 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 296 genes in a discovery phase using data from a genome-wide association study of EOC among women of European ancestry (1,947 cases and 2,009 controls) and identified 793 variants in 278 EMT-related genes that were nominally (P < 0.05) associated with invasive EOC. These SNPs were then genotyped in a larger study of 14,525 invasive-cancer patients and 23,447 controls. A P-value <0.05 and a false discovery rate (FDR) <0.2 were considered statistically significant. In the larger dataset, GPC6/GPC5 rs17702471 was associated with the endometrioid subtype among Caucasians (odds ratio (OR) = 1.16, 95% CI = 1.07-1.25, P = 0.0003, FDR = 0.19), whereas F8 rs7053448 (OR = 1.69, 95% CI = 1.27-2.24, P = 0.0003, FDR = 0.12), F8 rs7058826 (OR = 1.69, 95% CI = 1.27-2.24, P = 0.0003, FDR = 0.12), and CAPN13 rs1983383 (OR = 0.79, 95% CI = 0.69-0.90, P = 0.0005, FDR = 0.12) were associated with combined invasive EOC among Asians. In silico functional analyses revealed that GPC6/GPC5 rs17702471 coincided with DNA regulatory elements. These results suggest that EMT gene variants do not appear to play a significant role in the susceptibility to EOC.
  6. 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.

  7. Hampras SS, Sucheston-Campbell LE, Cannioto R, Chang-Claude J, Modugno F, Dörk T, et al.
    Oncotarget, 2016 10 25;7(43):69097-69110.
    PMID: 27533245 DOI: 10.18632/oncotarget.10215
    BACKGROUND: Regulatory T (Treg) cells, a subset of CD4+ T lymphocytes, are mediators of immunosuppression in cancer, and, thus, variants in genes encoding Treg cell immune molecules could be associated with ovarian cancer.

    METHODS: In a population of 15,596 epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) cases and 23,236 controls, we measured genetic associations of 1,351 SNPs in Treg cell pathway genes with odds of ovarian cancer and tested pathway and gene-level associations, overall and by histotype, for the 25 genes, using the admixture likelihood (AML) method. The most significant single SNP associations were tested for correlation with expression levels in 44 ovarian cancer patients.

    RESULTS: The most significant global associations for all genes in the pathway were seen in endometrioid ( p = 0.082) and clear cell ( p = 0.083), with the most significant gene level association seen with TGFBR2 ( p = 0.001) and clear cell EOC. Gene associations with histotypes at p < 0.05 included: IL12 ( p = 0.005 and p = 0.008, serous and high-grade serous, respectively), IL8RA ( p = 0.035, endometrioid and mucinous), LGALS1 ( p = 0.03, mucinous), STAT5B ( p = 0.022, clear cell), TGFBR1 ( p = 0.021 endometrioid) and TGFBR2 ( p = 0.017 and p = 0.025, endometrioid and mucinous, respectively).

    CONCLUSIONS: Common inherited gene variation in Treg cell pathways shows some evidence of germline genetic contribution to odds of EOC that varies by histologic subtype and may be associated with mRNA expression of immune-complex receptor in EOC patients.

  8. Kuchenbaecker KB, Ramus SJ, Tyrer J, Lee A, Shen HC, Beesley J, et al.
    Nat. Genet., 2015 Feb;47(2):164-71.
    PMID: 25581431 DOI: 10.1038/ng.3185
    Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified 12 epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) susceptibility alleles. The pattern of association at these loci is consistent in BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers who are at high risk of EOC. After imputation to 1000 Genomes Project data, we assessed associations of 11 million genetic variants with EOC risk from 15,437 cases unselected for family history and 30,845 controls and from 15,252 BRCA1 mutation carriers and 8,211 BRCA2 mutation carriers (3,096 with ovarian cancer), and we combined the results in a meta-analysis. This new study design yielded increased statistical power, leading to the discovery of six new EOC susceptibility loci. Variants at 1p36 (nearest gene, WNT4), 4q26 (SYNPO2), 9q34.2 (ABO) and 17q11.2 (ATAD5) were associated with EOC risk, and at 1p34.3 (RSPO1) and 6p22.1 (GPX6) variants were specifically associated with the serous EOC subtype, all with P < 5 × 10(-8). Incorporating these variants into risk assessment tools will improve clinical risk predictions for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers.
  9. Milne RL, Kuchenbaecker KB, Michailidou K, Beesley J, Kar S, Lindström S, et al.
    Nat. Genet., 2017 Dec;49(12):1767-1778.
    PMID: 29058716 DOI: 10.1038/ng.3785
    Most common breast cancer susceptibility variants have been identified through genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of predominantly estrogen receptor (ER)-positive disease. We conducted a GWAS using 21,468 ER-negative cases and 100,594 controls combined with 18,908 BRCA1 mutation carriers (9,414 with breast cancer), all of European origin. We identified independent associations at P < 5 × 10-8 with ten variants at nine new loci. At P < 0.05, we replicated associations with 10 of 11 variants previously reported in ER-negative disease or BRCA1 mutation carrier GWAS and observed consistent associations with ER-negative disease for 105 susceptibility variants identified by other studies. These 125 variants explain approximately 16% of the familial risk of this breast cancer subtype. There was high genetic correlation (0.72) between risk of ER-negative breast cancer and breast cancer risk for BRCA1 mutation carriers. These findings may lead to improved risk prediction and inform further fine-mapping and functional work to better understand the biological basis of ER-negative breast cancer.
  10. Michailidou K, Lindström S, Dennis J, Beesley J, Hui S, Kar S, et al.
    Nature, 2017 11 02;551(7678):92-94.
    PMID: 29059683 DOI: 10.1038/nature24284
    Breast cancer risk is influenced by rare coding variants in susceptibility genes, such as BRCA1, and many common, mostly non-coding variants. However, much of the genetic contribution to breast cancer risk remains unknown. Here we report the results of a genome-wide association study of breast cancer in 122,977 cases and 105,974 controls of European ancestry and 14,068 cases and 13,104 controls of East Asian ancestry. We identified 65 new loci that are associated with overall breast cancer risk at P
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