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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.
  3. Lawrenson K, Iversen ES, Tyrer J, Weber RP, Concannon P, Hazelett DJ, et al.
    Carcinogenesis, 2015 Nov;36(11):1341-53.
    PMID: 26424751 DOI: 10.1093/carcin/bgv138
    Genome-wide association studies have identified 20 genomic regions associated with risk of epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC), but many additional risk variants may exist. Here, we evaluated associations between common genetic variants [single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and indels] in DNA repair genes and EOC risk. We genotyped 2896 common variants at 143 gene loci in DNA samples from 15 397 patients with invasive EOC and controls. We found evidence of associations with EOC risk for variants at FANCA, EXO1, E2F4, E2F2, CREB5 and CHEK2 genes (P ≤ 0.001). The strongest risk association was for CHEK2 SNP rs17507066 with serous EOC (P = 4.74 x 10(-7)). Additional genotyping and imputation of genotypes from the 1000 genomes project identified a slightly more significant association for CHEK2 SNP rs6005807 (r (2) with rs17507066 = 0.84, odds ratio (OR) 1.17, 95% CI 1.11-1.24, P = 1.1×10(-7)). We identified 293 variants in the region with likelihood ratios of less than 1:100 for representing the causal variant. Functional annotation identified 25 candidate SNPs that alter transcription factor binding sites within regulatory elements active in EOC precursor tissues. In The Cancer Genome Atlas dataset, CHEK2 gene expression was significantly higher in primary EOCs compared to normal fallopian tube tissues (P = 3.72×10(-8)). We also identified an association between genotypes of the candidate causal SNP rs12166475 (r (2) = 0.99 with rs6005807) and CHEK2 expression (P = 2.70×10(-8)). These data suggest that common variants at 22q12.1 are associated with risk of serous EOC and CHEK2 as a plausible target susceptibility gene.
  4. 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.

  5. 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.
  6. Phelan CM, Kuchenbaecker KB, Tyrer JP, Kar SP, Lawrenson K, Winham SJ, et al.
    Nat. Genet., 2017 May;49(5):680-691.
    PMID: 28346442 DOI: 10.1038/ng.3826
    To identify common alleles associated with different histotypes of epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC), we pooled data from multiple genome-wide genotyping projects totaling 25,509 EOC cases and 40,941 controls. We identified nine new susceptibility loci for different EOC histotypes: six for serous EOC histotypes (3q28, 4q32.3, 8q21.11, 10q24.33, 18q11.2 and 22q12.1), two for mucinous EOC (3q22.3 and 9q31.1) and one for endometrioid EOC (5q12.3). We then performed meta-analysis on the results for high-grade serous ovarian cancer with the results from analysis of 31,448 BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers, including 3,887 mutation carriers with EOC. This identified three additional susceptibility loci at 2q13, 8q24.1 and 12q24.31. Integrated analyses of genes and regulatory biofeatures at each locus predicted candidate susceptibility genes, including OBFC1, a new candidate susceptibility gene for low-grade and borderline serous EOC.
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