Research IndicatorsGraph generated 27 February 2015 using data from PubMed using criteria.
Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic. Tag cloud generated 27 February, 2015 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex
Specific Cancers (3)
Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.
Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).
OMIM, Johns Hopkin University
Referenced article focusing on the relationship between phenotype and genotype.
International Cancer Genome Consortium.
Summary of gene and mutations by cancer type from ICGC
Cancer Genome Anatomy Project, NCI
COSMIC, Sanger Institute
Somatic mutation information and related details
Search the Epigenomics database and view relevant gene tracks of samples.
Latest Publications: RASSF7 (cancer-related)
Li Z, Chang X, Dai D, et al.RASSF10 is an epigenetically silenced tumor suppressor in gastric cancer.
Oncol Rep. 2014; 31(4):1661-8 [PubMed
] Related Publications
To better understand the role of the N-Terminal Ras association domain family (RASSF) genes in the development of gastric cancer, we examined the expression of RASSF7 and RASSF10 and RASSF10 methylation in gastric cancer. We found that RASSF10 expression was lost in six gastric cancer cell lines, and was rescued by a DNA demethylating agent and a histone deacetylase inhibitor. However, RASSF7 expression was strong in four cancer cell lines as well as in 87% of primary gastric cancer tissues. In contrast, RASSF7 expression was moderate in the GES-1 cell line and negative in 33.3% of the corresponding non-cancerous tissues. Analysis of RASSF10 methylation by methylation-specific PCR (MSP) and sequencing revealed that the methylation frequency in primary gastric carcinoma tissues was significantly higher compared to that in adjacent non-carcinoma tissues (61.6 vs. 38.4%; p<0.01). The methylation frequency in the tumor with invasion depth at T3 and T4 was significantly higher compared to that with invasion depth at T1 and T2 (67.1 vs. 37.5%; p<0.05). Hypermethylation of RASSF10 was found in the patients with lymph node metastasis, compared to those with unaffected lymph nodes (68.8 vs. 40.9%; p<0.05). Among the 4 gross types of the Borrmann classification, i.e. EGC, Borrmann Ⅰ, Borrmann Ⅱ, Borrmann Ⅲ and Borrmann Ⅳ, the last one was more frequently methylated (85.7 vs. 56.9%; p<0.05). The present study revealed that RASSF10 is an epigenetically silenced gene involved in tumor invasion and metastasis in gastric cancer, suggesting that the methylation status of RASSF10 may be a useful indicator to predict the malignant degree of gastric cancer.
Bochenek G, Häsler R, El Mokhtari NE, et al.The large non-coding RNA ANRIL, which is associated with atherosclerosis, periodontitis and several forms of cancer, regulates ADIPOR1, VAMP3 and C11ORF10.
Hum Mol Genet. 2013; 22(22):4516-27 [PubMed
] Related Publications
The long non-coding RNA ANRIL is the best replicated genetic risk locus of coronary artery disease (CAD) and periodontitis (PD), and is independently associated with a variety of other immune-mediated and metabolic disorders and several forms of cancer. Recent studies showed a correlation of decreased concentrations of proximal ANRIL transcripts with homozygous carriership of the CAD and PD main risk alleles. To elucidate the relation of these transcripts to disease manifestation, we constructed a short hairpin RNA in a stable inducible knock-down system of T-Rex 293 HEK cell lines, specifically targeting the proximal transcripts EU741058 and DQ485454. By genome-wide expression profiling using Affymetrix HG1.0 ST Arrays, we identified the transcription of ADIPOR1, VAMP3 and C11ORF10 to be correlated with decreased ANRIL expression in a time-dependent manner. We validated these findings on a transcriptional and translational level in different cell types. Exploration of the identified genes for the presence of disease associated variants, using Affymetrix 500K genotyping and Illumina custom genotyping arrays, highlighted a region upstream of VAMP3 within CAMTA1 to be associated with increased risk of CAD [rs10864294 P = 0.015, odds ratio (OR) = 1.30, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.1-1.6, 1471 cases, 2737 controls] and aggressive PD (AgP; P = 0.008, OR = 1.31, 95% CI = 1.1-1.6, 864 cases, 3664 controls). In silico replication in a meta-analysis of 14 genome-wide association studies of CAD of the CARDIoGRAM Consortium identified rs2301462, located on the same haplotype block, as associated with P = 0.001 upon adjustment for sex and age. Our results give evidence that specific isoforms of ANRIL regulate key genes of glucose and fatty acid metabolism.
BACKGROUND: Hypermethylation of promotor CpG islands is a common mechanism that inactivates tumor suppressor genes in cancer. Genes belonging to the RASSF gene family have frequently been reported as epigenetically silenced by promotor methylation in human cancers. Two members of this gene family, RASSF1A and RASSF5A have been reported as methylated in neuroblastoma. Data from our previously performed genome-wide DNA methylation array analysis indicated that other members of the RASSF gene family are targeted by DNA methylation in neuroblastoma.
RESULTS: In the current study, we found that several of the RASSF family genes (RASSF2, RASSF4, RASSF5, RASSF6, RASSF7, and RASSF10) to various degrees were methylated in neuroblastoma cell lines and primary tumors. In addition, several of the RASSF family genes showed low or absent mRNA expression in neuroblastoma cell lines. RASSF5 and RASSF6 were to various degrees methylated in a large portion of neuroblastoma tumors and RASSF7 was heavily methylated in most tumors. Further, CpG methylation sites in the CpG islands of some RASSF family members could be used to significantly discriminate between biological subgroups of neuroblastoma tumors. For example, RASSF5 methylation highly correlated to MYCN amplification and INRG stage M. Furthermore, high methylation of RASSF6 was correlated to unfavorable outcome, 1p deletion and MYCN amplification in our tumor material.
IN CONCLUSION: This study shows that several genes belonging to the RASSF gene family are methylated in neuroblastoma. The genes RASSF5, RASSF6 and RASSF7 stand out as the most promising candidate genes for further investigations in neuroblastoma.
Shinawi T, Hill V, Dagklis A, et al.KIBRA gene methylation is associated with unfavorable biological prognostic parameters in chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Epigenetics. 2012; 7(3):211-5 [PubMed
] Related Publications
Ras-association domain family (RASSF) members are a family of genes containing an RA domain in either the C-terminus (RASSF1-RASSF6) or in the N-terminus (RASSF7-RASSF10). Members of this gene family are core members of the Salvador/Warts/Hippo (SWH) tumor suppressor network and have been shown to be involved in human tumorigenesis. Among the RASSF genes, RASSF1A is one of the most frequently methylated genes in a wide range of epithelial cancers, and we previously demonstrated that RASSF6 and RASSF10 genes are frequently epigenetically inactivated in acute leukemias, particularly in those of the B cell type. We here determined the methylation profiles of all members of the RASSF gene family as well as two recently identified (KIBRA, CRB3) upstream members of the SWH pathway in the leukemic B cells obtained from a well-characterized cohort of 95 patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Among the RASSF genes, RASSF10 (50%) was the most frequently methylated gene, followed by RASSF6 (16%). The remaining RASSF genes were either unmethylated or showed a frequency of methylation < 10%. The upstream SWH member KIBRA was also frequently methylated in CLL (35%) in contrast to CRB3. Interestingly, the analysis of clinical-pathological parameters showed that KIBRA methylation was associated with unfavorable biological prognostic parameters, including unmutated IGHV genes (p = 0.007) and high CD38 expression (p < 0.05).
Colas E, Perez C, Cabrera S, et al.Molecular markers of endometrial carcinoma detected in uterine aspirates.
Int J Cancer. 2011; 129(10):2435-44 [PubMed
] Related Publications
Endometrial cancer (EC) is the most frequent of the invasive tumors of the female genital tract. Although usually detected in its initial stages, a 20% of the patients present with advanced disease. To date, no characterized molecular marker has been validated for the diagnosis of EC. In addition, new methods for prognosis and classification of EC are needed to combat this deadly disease. We thus aimed to identify new molecular markers of EC and to evaluate their validity on endometrial aspirates. Gene expression screening on 52 carcinoma samples and series of real-time quantitative PCR validation on 19 paired carcinomas and normal tissue samples and on 50 carcinoma and noncarcinoma uterine aspirates were performed to identify and validate potential biomarkers of EC. Candidate markers were further confirmed at the protein level by immunohistochemistry and Western blot. We identified ACAA1, AP1M2, CGN, DDR1, EPS8L2, FASTKD1, GMIP, IKBKE, P2RX4, P4HB, PHKG2, PPFIBP2, PPP1R16A, RASSF7, RNF183, SIRT6, TJP3, EFEMP2, SOCS2 and DCN as differentially expressed in ECs. Furthermore, the differential expression of these biomarkers in primary endometrial tumors is correlated to their expression level in corresponding uterine fluid samples. Finally, these biomarkers significantly identified EC with area under the receiver-operating-characteristic values ranging from 0.74 to 0.95 in uterine aspirates. Interestingly, analogous values were found among initial stages. We present the discovery of molecular biomarkers of EC and describe their utility in uterine aspirates. These findings represent the basis for the development of a highly sensitive and specific minimally invasive method for screening ECs.
Epigenetic inactivation of tumor suppressor genes is a hallmark of cancer development. RASSF1A (Ras Association Domain Family 1 isoform A) tumor suppressor gene is one of the most frequently epigenetically inactivated genes in a wide range of adult and children's cancers and could be a useful molecular marker for cancer diagnosis and prognosis. RASSF1A has been shown to play a role in several biological pathways, including cell cycle control, apoptosis and microtubule dynamics. RASSF2, RASSF4, RASSF5 and RASSF6 are also epigenetically inactivated in cancer but have not been analysed in as wide a range of malignancies as RASSF1A. Recently four new members of the RASSF family were identified these are termed N-Terminal RASSF genes (RASSF7-RASSF10). Molecular and biological analysis of these newer members has just begun. This review highlights what we currently know in respects to structural, functional and molecular properties of the N-Terminal RASSFs.
Hill VK, Underhill-Day N, Krex D, et al.Epigenetic inactivation of the RASSF10 candidate tumor suppressor gene is a frequent and an early event in gliomagenesis.
Oncogene. 2011; 30(8):978-89 [PubMed
] Related Publications
We have recently described the N-terminal RAS association domain family of genes, RASSF7-10. Previously, we cloned the N-terminal RASSF10 gene and demonstrated frequent methylation of the associated 5'-CpG island in acute lymphoblastic leukemia. To characterize RASSF10 gene expression, we demonstrate that in developing Xenopus embryos, RASSF10 shows a very striking pattern in the rhombencephalon (hind brain). It is also expressed in other parts of the brain and other organs. Due to the well-defined expression pattern in the brain of Xenopus embryos, we analyzed the methylation status of the RASSF10-associated 5'-CpG island in astrocytic gliomas. RASSF10 was frequently methylated in WHO grade II-III astrocytomas and WHO grade IV primary glioblastomas (67.5%), but was unmethylated in grade I astrocytomas and in DNA from age matched control brain samples. RASSF10 gene expression both at the mRNA and protein levels could be switched back on in methylated glioma cell lines after treatment with 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine. In secondary glioblastomas (sGBM), RASSF10 methylation was an independent prognostic factor associated with worst progression-free survival and overall survival and occurred at an early stage in their development. In cell culture experiments, overexpression of RASSF10 mediated a reduction in the colony forming ability of two RASSF10-methylated glioma cell lines. Conversely, RNAi-mediated knockdown of RASSF10-stimulated anchorage-independent growth of U87 glioma cells, increased their viability and caused an increase in the cells' proliferative ability. We generated and characterized a RASSF10-specific antibody and demonstrated for the first time that RASSF10 subcellular localization is cell-cycle dependent with RASSF10 colocalizing to centrosomes and associated microtubules during mitosis. This is the first report demonstrating that RASSF10 can act as a tumor suppressor gene and is frequently methylated in gliomas and can potentially be developed into a prognostic marker for sGBM.
Calcineurin inhibitors such as cyclosporin A (CsA) are the mainstay of immunosuppressive treatment for organ transplant recipients. Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the skin is a major complication of treatment with these drugs, with a 65 to 100-fold higher risk than in the normal population. By contrast, the incidence of basal cell carcinoma (BCC), the other major keratinocyte-derived tumour of the skin, of melanoma and of internal malignancies increases to a significantly lesser extent. Here we report that genetic and pharmacological suppression of calcineurin/nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) function promotes tumour formation in mouse skin and in xenografts, in immune compromised mice, of H-ras(V12) (also known as Hras1)-expressing primary human keratinocytes or keratinocyte-derived SCC cells. Calcineurin/NFAT inhibition counteracts p53 (also known as TRP53)-dependent cancer cell senescence, thereby increasing tumorigenic potential. ATF3, a member of the 'enlarged' AP-1 family, is selectively induced by calcineurin/NFAT inhibition, both under experimental conditions and in clinically occurring tumours, and increased ATF3 expression accounts for suppression of p53-dependent senescence and enhanced tumorigenic potential. Thus, intact calcineurin/NFAT signalling is critically required for p53 and senescence-associated mechanisms that protect against skin squamous cancer development.
Ras proteins play a direct causal role in human cancer with activating mutations in Ras occurring in approximately 30% of tumours. Ras effectors also contribute to cancer, as mutations occur in Ras effectors, notably B-Raf and PI3-K, and drugs blocking elements of these pathways are in clinical development. In 2000, a new Ras effector was identified, RAS-association domain family 1 (RASSF1), and expression of the RASSF1A isoform of this gene is silenced in tumours by methylation of its promoter. Since methylation is reversible and demethylating agents are currently being used in clinical trials, detection of RASSF1A silencing by promoter hypermethylation has potential clinical uses in cancer diagnosis, prognosis and treatment. RASSF1A belongs to a new family of RAS effectors, of which there are currently 8 members (RASSF1-8). RASSF1-6 each contain a variable N-terminal segment followed by a Ras-association (RA) domain of the Ral-GDS/AF6 type, and a specialised coiled-coil structure known as a SARAH domain extending to the C-terminus. RASSF7-8 contain an N-terminal RA domain and a variable C-terminus. Members of the RASSF family are thought to function as tumour suppressors by regulating the cell cycle and apoptosis. This review will summarise our current knowledge of each member of the RASSF family and in particular what role they play in tumourigenesis, with a special focus on RASSF1A, whose promoter methylation is one of the most frequent alterations found in human tumours.
Bowen RL, Stebbing J, Jones LJA review of the ethnic differences in breast cancer.
Pharmacogenomics. 2006; 7(6):935-42 [PubMed
] Related Publications
Women of African descent have a lower incidence of breast cancer than their white counterparts; however, the overall age-adjusted breast cancer mortality rates are higher. They also present at a younger age, and have more advanced disease that exhibits poor prognostic features including significantly larger tumors of higher grade, higher rates of estrogen receptor and progesterone receptor negativity and a higher rate of p53 mutations and HRAS1 proto-oncogene expression, all of which confer a poor prognosis. While there are many possible contributory factors to the discrepancies in outcome in women of African descent, there is no satisfactory explanation as to why women of African origin tend to present at a younger age with hormone receptor-negative tumors and more adverse prognostic features.
We have previously shown that c-MYC-induced mammary tumorigenesis in mice proceeds via a preferred secondary pathway involving spontaneous activating mutations in Kras2 (C. M. D'Cruz, E. J. Gunther, R. B. Boxer, J. L. Hartman, L. Sintasath, S. E. Moody, J. D. Cox, S. I. Ha, G. K. Belka, A. Golant, R. D. Cardiff, and L. A. Chodosh, Nat. Med. 7:235-239, 2001). In contrast, we now demonstrate that Wnt1-induced mammary tumorigenesis proceeds via a pathway that preferentially activates Hras1. In addition, we find that expression of oncogenic forms of Kras2 and Hras1 from their endogenous promoters has markedly different consequences for the progression of tumors to oncogene independence. Spontaneous activating Kras2 mutations occurring in either MYC- or Wnt1-induced tumors were strongly associated with oncogene-independent tumor growth following MYC or Wnt1 downregulation. In contrast, Hras1-mutant Wnt1-induced tumors consistently remained oncogene dependent. Additionally, Kras2-mutant tumors exhibited substantially higher levels of ras-GTP, phospho-Erk1/2, and phospho-Mek1/2 compared to Hras1-mutant tumors, suggesting the involvement of the ras/mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway in the acquisition of oncogene independence. Consistent with this, by use of carcinogen-induced ras mutations as well as knock-in mice harboring a latent activated Kras2 allele, we demonstrate that Kras2 activation strongly synergizes with both c-MYC and Wnt1 in mammary tumorigenesis and promotes the progression of tumors to oncogene independence. Together, our findings support a model for tumorigenesis in which c-MYC and Wnt1 select for the outgrowth of cells harboring mutations in specific ras isoforms and that these secondary mutations, in turn, determine the extent of ras/MAPK pathway activation and the potential for oncogene-independent growth.
Tempfer CB, Hefler LA, Schneeberger C, Huber JCHow valid is single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) diagnosis for the individual risk assessment of breast cancer?
Gynecol Endocrinol. 2006; 22(3):155-9 [PubMed
] Related Publications
The number of reports investigating disease susceptibility based on the carriage of low-penetrance, high-frequency single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) has increased in recent years. Evidence is accumulating defining specific individual variations in breast cancer susceptibility. Genetic variations of estradiol and xenobiotics metabolisms as well as genes involved in cell-cycle control have been described as significant contributors to breast cancer susceptibility, with variations depending on ethnic background and co-factors such as smoking and family history of breast cancer. In sum, the highest level of evidence to date linking SNPs and breast cancer comes from nested case-control studies within the prospective Nurses' Health Study. These data establish seven SNPs - hPRB +331G/A, AR CAG repeat, CYP19 (TTTA)10, CYP1A1 MspI, VDR FOK1, XRCC1 Arg194Trp and XRCC2 Arg188His - as small but significant risk factors for spontaneous, non-hereditary breast cancer. In addition, meta-analysis of data in the literature establishes the TGFBR1*6A, HRAS1, GSTP Ile105Val and GSTM1 SNPs as low-penetrance genetic risk factors of sporadic breast cancer. The clinical consequences of such a risk elevation may be detailed instruction of the patient as to general measures of breast cancer prevention such as a low-fat diet, optimization of body mass index, physical exercise, avoidance of alcohol and long-term hormone replacement therapy, and participation in a breast cancer screening program between the ages of 50 and 70 years. Specific surgical or drug interventions such as prophylactic mastectomy and oophorectomy or prophylactic intake of tamoxifen are not indicated based on SNP analysis at this time.
BACKGROUND: Neuroblastoma is a frequently lethal pediatric cancer in which MYCN genomic amplification is highly correlated with aggressive disease. Deregulated MYC genes require co-operative lesions to foster tumourigenesis and both direct and indirect evidence support activated Ras signaling for this purpose in many cancers. Yet Ras genes and Braf, while often activated in cancer cells, are infrequent targets for activation in neuroblastoma. Recently, the Ras effector PIK3CA was shown to be activated in diverse human cancers. We therefore assessed PIK3CA for mutation in human neuroblastomas, as well as in neuroblastomas arising in transgenic mice with MYCN overexpressed in neural-crest tissues. In this murine model we additionally surveyed for Ras family and Braf mutations as these have not been previously reported.
METHODS: Sixty-nine human neuroblastomas (42 primary tumors and 27 cell lines) were sequenced for PIK3CA activating mutations within the C2, helical and kinase domain "hot spots" where 80% of mutations cluster. Constitutional DNA was sequenced in cases with confirmed alterations to assess for germline or somatic acquisition. Additionally, Ras family members (Hras1, Kras2 and Nras) and the downstream effectors Pik3ca and Braf, were sequenced from twenty-five neuroblastomas arising in neuroblastoma-prone transgenic mice.
RESULTS: We identified mutations in the PIK3CA gene in 2 of 69 human neuroblastomas (2.9%). Neither mutation (R524M and E982D) has been studied to date for effects on lipid kinase activity. Though both occurred in tumors with MYCN amplification the overall rate of PIK3CA mutations in MYCN amplified and single-copy tumors did not differ appreciably (2 of 31 versus 0 of 38, respectively). Further, no activating mutations were identified in a survey of Ras signal transduction genes (including Hras1, Kras2, Nras, Pik3ca, or Braf genes) in twenty-five neuroblastic tumors arising in the MYCN-initiated transgenic mouse model.
CONCLUSION: These data suggest that activating mutations in the Ras/Raf-MAPK/PI3K signaling cascades occur infrequently in neuroblastoma. Further, despite compelling evidence for MYC and RAS cooperation in vitro and in vivo to promote tumourigenesis, activation of RAS signal transduction does not constitute a preferred secondary pathway in neuroblastomas with MYCN deregulation in either human tumors or murine models.
Nam RK, Zhang WW, Jewett MA, et al.The use of genetic markers to determine risk for prostate cancer at prostate biopsy.
Clin Cancer Res. 2005; 11(23):8391-7 [PubMed
] Related Publications
PURPOSE: We examined a panel of 13 polymorphisms in 13 different genes to determine whether specific genotypes can help predict prostate cancer at the time of biopsy among men prescreened with prostate-specific antigen and digital rectal exam.
EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: We examined 2,088 consecutive men who were referred for prostate biopsy from 1997 to 2003. Thirteen genes were examined, including TNF308, GSTT1, KLK2, endostatin, MCRA, MCRV, tyrosinase, MSR1, CHK2, RNasel, HOGG1-326, HOGG1-11657, and HRAS1. Odds ratio for detection of prostate cancer were adjusted for age, race, prostate-specific antigen, digital rectal exam, family history of prostate cancer, and urinary symptoms.
RESULTS: Of the 2,088 men, 996 (47.7%) had cancer detected. Four genes (TNF308, GSTT1, KLK2, and HOGG1-326) were significantly associated with prostate cancer. The adjusted odds ratios (OR) for prostate cancer for patients with the AA genotype of the TNF308 gene was 1.92 [95% confidence interval (95% CI), 1.0-1.5, P = 0.05], compared with those with the GG genotype, and for patients with the TT genotype of the KLK2 gene, the OR was 1.5 (95% confidence interval, 1.0-2.2, P = 0.04), compared with the CC genotype. The OR for patients with a homozygous deletion of the GSTT1 gene was 0.81 (95% CI, 0.6-1.0, P = 0.06) compared with those with the deletion, and the OR for patients with the GG genotype of the HOGG1-326 gene was 0.68 (95% CI, 0.5-1.0, P = 0.05) compared with the CC genotype. Patients who had all four alleles that were positively associated with prostate cancer had an OR of 9.33 (95% CI, 2.4-35.8, P = 0.0005) for prostate cancer compared with patients with alleles that were negatively associated with prostate cancer.
CONCLUSIONS: Of the 13 polymorphisms, two were found to be positively associated with prostate cancer (TNF308 and KLK2) and two were negatively associated with prostate cancer (GSTT1 and HOGG1-326). Future studies are required to confirm these results.
Deregulation of Notch signaling, which normally affects a broad spectrum of cell fates, has been implicated in various neoplastic conditions. Here we describe a transgenic mouse model, which demonstrates that expression of a constitutively active form of the Notch1 receptor in the mammary epithelium induces the rapid development of pregnancy/lactation-dependent neoplasms that consistently exhibit a characteristic histopathological pattern. These signature tumors retain the ability to respond to apoptotic stimuli and regress on initiation of mammary gland involution, but eventually appear to progress in subsequent pregnancies to nonregressing malignant adenocarcinomas. Additionally, we present evidence indicating that cyclin D1 is an in vivo target of Notch signals in the mammary glands and demonstrate that we can effectively inhibit Hras1-driven, cyclin D1-dependent mammary oncogenesis by transgenic expression of the Notch antagonist Deltex.
Tamimi RM, Hankinson SE, Ding S, et al.The HRAS1 variable number of tandem repeats and risk of breast cancer.
Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2003; 12(12):1528-30 [PubMed
] Related Publications
Rare alleles at the HRAS1 variable number of tandem repeats (VNTRs) locus have been implicated in breast cancer risk. We assessed the association of rare HRAS1 alleles and breast cancer in a case-control study nested within the Nurses' Health Study cohort. Using PCR-based methods, 717 incident breast cancer cases and 798 controls were genotyped for the HRAS1 VNTRs. The prevalence of the rare alleles in breast cancer cases was not different compared with controls (10.7 versus 12.0%, respectively; P = 0.45, two-sided Cochran-Mantel-Haenzel chi(2) test). There was no evidence that women heterozygous (multivariate odds ratio, 0.97; 95% confidence interval, 0.73-1.27) or homozygous (multivariate odds ratio, 0.83; 95% confidence interval, 0.32-2.14) for rare alleles were at an increased risk of breast cancer or that a positive gene-dose effect existed. The results did not vary by menopausal status. Although as a group the rare alleles were not associated with breast cancer, one class of rare alleles between the common alleles of a3 and a4 was associated with a significantly increased risk. These results suggest that there is no overall association between rare alleles of the HRAS1 VNTR and breast cancer.
Bonafè M, Barbi C, Storci G, et al.What studies on human longevity tell us about the risk for cancer in the oldest old: data and hypotheses on the genetics and immunology of centenarians.
Exp Gerontol. 2002 Oct-Nov; 37(10-11):1263-71 [PubMed
] Related Publications
Centenarians are people who escaped from major common diseases, including cancer, and reached the extreme limits of human life-span. The analysis of demographic data indicates that cancer incidence and mortality show a levelling off around the age of 85-90 years, and suggests that oldest old people and centenarians are protected from cancer onset and progression. In this paper, we review data of recent literature on the distribution in centenarians of germ-line polymorphisms, which are supposed to affect the individual susceptibility to cancer (p53, HRAS1, BRCA1, glutathione transferases, cytochrome oxidases, steroid-5 alpha-reductase enzyme type II). Moreover, we add new data on two p53 polymorphisms in a total of 1086 people of different age, including 307 centenarians. In addition, we put forth the hypothesis that the remodelling of the immune system occurring with age is capable of creating a hostile environment for the growth of cancer cells in these exceptional individuals. We conclude that future studies on centenarians regarding the germ-line variability of genes involved in the control of the immune response, including apoptosis (ApoJ), are likely to be of fundamental importance in understanding the basic mechanisms for cancer, aging and their complex relationship.
de Jong MM, Nolte IM, te Meerman GJ, et al.Low-penetrance genes and their involvement in colorectal cancer susceptibility.
Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2002; 11(11):1332-52 [PubMed
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This report focuses on low-penetrance genes that are associated with colorectal adenoma and/or cancer or that are in strong linkage disequilibrium with colorectal adenoma and/or cancer causing variants. A pooled analysis was performed for 30 polymorphisms in 20 different genes that have been reported in more than one colorectal adenoma or cancer study. An association with colorectal cancer was found for seven polymorphisms in seven genes reported in more than one study; no associations were found with colorectal adenoma. Four of the polymorphisms exhibited an increased colorectal cancer risk [GSTT1, NAT2 (phenotype), HRAS1, and ALDH2]. Two others [MTHFR, Tp53 (intron 3)] exhibited a decreased risk. For the tumor necrosis factor (TNF)a polymorphism of the TNF-alpha gene, one allele was associated with an increased risk (a2 allele) and two other TNFa alleles with decreased risks (a5 and a13 allele). No association with colorectal adenoma and/or cancer was detected for 23 other polymorphisms in 15 genes. However, of all 30 polymorphisms, only three pooled analyses had sufficiently large samples to confirm (MTHFR) or to exclude (GSTM1 and NAT2 genotype) the association with a P < 0.0026 and a power of 90%. Eighteen polymorphisms in 15 genes were each described in only one study, all with very small sample sizes. For 11 polymorphisms in 10 of these genes, an association with colorectal adenoma and/or cancer was found. Only simultaneous genotyping and combined analysis of different polymorphisms in large numbers of patients and controls, stratified by ethnicity, gender, and tumor localization and taking relevant dietary and lifestyle habits into account, will make it possible to describe the exact relations between polymorphisms and colorectal cancer susceptibility with an adequate power.
Louro ID, Bailey EC, Li X, et al.Comparative gene expression profile analysis of GLI and c-MYC in an epithelial model of malignant transformation.
Cancer Res. 2002; 62(20):5867-73 [PubMed
] Related Publications
Transcription factor oncogenes such as GLI and c-MYC are central to the pathogenesis of human tumors. GLI encodes a zinc finger protein that is activated by Sonic Hedgehog signaling. Mutations in this pathway induce GLI expression in basal cell carcinoma, and expression of GLI in mice is sufficient to induce these skin tumors. We used microarrays to identify transcripts regulated by GLI or c-MYC after retroviral transduction and short-term culture of epithelial RK3E cells. Although each of these oncogenes induces malignant transformation of RK3E, two distinct sets of genes were identified. Of approximately 17,500 transcripts represented on the microarrays, GLI up-regulated the expression of 158 and repressed the expression of 52. In contrast, transcripts regulated by c-MYC were mainly repressed (424 of 682 regulated transcripts). Transcripts induced by the GLI transgene are likewise expressed in association with endogenous GLI in Ptch-deficient murine fibroblasts or in human skin tumors, but are not up-regulated in RK3E cells transformed by c-MYC, KLF4, or HRAS1. Unlike these other oncogenes, GLI induced the expression of mesenchymal cell markers including Snail, a zinc finger protein implicated in epithelial-mesenchymal transition in development and during tumor progression. A novel GLI-estrogen receptor fusion protein rapidly induced Snail mRNA expression in a manner like Ptch, a known direct transcriptional target gene. Induction of Snail expression and epithelial-mesenchymal transition by GLI may account for certain histopathological features of basal cell carcinoma, such as the absence of a well-defined, intraepithelial precursor lesion. In addition, consistent expression of the newly identified GLI-induced transcripts within GLI-expressing tumors in vivo indicates that oncogene-specific transcriptional profiles may be useful diagnostic tools for analysis of human tumors.
van Gils CH, Conway K, Li Y, Taylor JAHRAS1 variable number of tandem repeats polymorphism and risk of bladder cancer.
Int J Cancer. 2002; 100(4):414-8 [PubMed
] Related Publications
The HRAS1 variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR) polymorphism, 1 kb downstream from the HRAS1 gene, has been reported to be associated with risk of various cancers. To examine whether individuals with rare HRAS1 VNTR alleles are at increased risk of bladder cancer we carried out a case control study with 230 bladder cancer cases and 203 hospital-based controls frequency-matched on ethnicity, gender and age. For genotyping we used a PCR-based long-gel electrophoretic assay that provides precise allele size discrimination. We did not find evidence of a strong overall effect of the HRAS1 VNTR on bladder cancer risk. Genotype data for whites and blacks were analyzed separately, but the number of black subjects was too small to estimate meaningful odds ratios. Compared to white subjects with 2 common alleles, the odds ratio (OR) for white subjects with 1 rare allele was 0.9 (95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.5-1.4) and for those with 2 rare alleles OR = 1.7 (95% CI = 0.6-5.4). HRAS1 genotype may be related to the prognosis of bladder cancer, however, because incident cases, i.e., newly diagnosed cases had a higher frequency of rare alleles than did prevalent cases, i.e., cases already existing at the time of recruitment. Repeating the analyses with incident cases only (n = 53), the OR for subjects with 1 rare allele was 1.2 (95% CI = 0.6-2.4) and for those with 2 rare alleles 3.2 (95% CI = 0.8-13.7). The number of incident cases was too small to draw firm conclusions on a possible association with a subgroup of tumors with a poor prognosis. Published 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Vega A, Sobrido MJ, Ruiz-Ponte C, et al.Rare HRAS1 alleles are a risk factor for the development of brain tumors.
Cancer. 2001; 92(11):2920-6 [PubMed
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BACKGROUND: The highly polymorphic HRAS1 minisatellite locus, located 1 kilobase downstream from the H-ras1 gene, has been associated with increased susceptibility to a variety of cancers. Microsatellite instability (MI), another molecular abnormality observed in human neoplasms, most likely reflects an increased mutation rate and also is thought to underlie cancer predisposition. The purpose of this study was to investigate the association between rare HRAS1 alleles and brain tumors and to correlate the HRAS1 allelotype with MI and clinicopathologic features.
METHODS: Ninety-four patients with primary brain tumors (52 gliomas, 32 meningiomas, and 10 schwannomas) and 109 healthy control individuals were studied. The size of HRAS1 alleles was determined by fluorescent detection in an automated DNA sequencer. The interspersion pattern was assessed by the minisatellite variant repeat-polymerase chain reaction technique.
RESULTS: Twenty of 94 (21.28%) patients with brain tumors had at least one rare allele, compared with 13 of 109 (11.92%) in the control population (Fisher exact test; P = 0.0329). The presence of rare alleles was associated with an increased risk of brain tumors (odds ratio, 1.99; 95% confidence interval, 0.93-4.27). The overrepresentation of rare alleles in tumor patients mainly reflects the higher frequency observed in the glioma group (P = 0.0086). The authors did not detect association between the presence of rare HRAS1 alleles and MI in their series. No significant difference in the distribution of these alleles was found when tumors were compared according to other clinicopathologic variables.
CONCLUSIONS: The presence of rare HRAS1 alleles is associated with an increased risk for the development of glial neoplasms (OR = 2.72; 95% CI, 1.17-6.32). The lack of association between rare HRAS1 polymorphisms and MI suggests that these two genetic factors are not likely to be expression of the same underlying defect.
Vega A, Barros F, Lleonart ME, et al.HRAS1 minisatellite alleles in colorectal carcinoma: relationship to microsatelite instability.
Anticancer Res. 2001 Jul-Aug; 21(4A):2855-60 [PubMed
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OBJECTIVES: To further evaluate sporadic colon carcinoma risk associated with rare HRAS1 VNTR alleles, the relationship with microsatellite instability and with HRAS1 VNTR instability.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: The HRAS1 VNTR was genotyped in 121 tumors and normal samples from sporadic colon carcinoma patients (47 right and 74 left colon) and in 109 samples from healthy individuals. The HRAS1 alleles were identified using PCR and automatic fluorescent electrophoresis detection combined with MVR-PCR (Minisatellite Variant Repeat-Polymerase Chain Reaction). Microsatellite Instability (MI) was analysed with 10 microsatellite markers.
RESULTS: A relative risk of 3.04 (95% CI: 1.16-4.92) associated with rare alleles was obtained. No HRAS1 minisatellite instability was present in the tumors. Samples with MI were equally distributed between the common and rare HRAS1 allele groups, while the distribution of HRAS1 alleles in samples with MI was similar in right and left colorectal carcinoma.
CONCLUSION: Rare HRAS1 VNTR alleles are associated with colorectal carcinoma risk independent of the tumor location. MI is not likely to be involved in the same underlying defect that generates rare HRAS1 alleles in colorectal carcinoma.
Houlston RS, Tomlinson IPPolymorphisms and colorectal tumor risk.
Gastroenterology. 2001; 121(2):282-301 [PubMed
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BACKGROUND & AIMS: Increasingly, studies of the relationship between common genetic variants and colorectal tumor risk are being proposed. To assess the evidence that any of these confers a risk, a systematic review and meta-analysis of published studies was undertaken.
METHODS: Fifty studies of the effect of common alleles of 13 genes on risk were identified. To clarify the impact of individual polymorphisms on risk, pooled analyses were performed.
RESULTS: Of the 50 studies identified, significant associations were seen in 16, but only 3 were reported in more than one study. Pooling studies, significant associations were only seen for 3 of the polymorphisms: adenomatosis polyposis coli (APC)-I1307K (odds ratio [OR] = 1.58, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.21-2.07); Harvey ras-1 variable number tandem repeat polymorphism (HRAS1-VNTR; OR = 2.50, 95% CI: 1.54-4.05); and methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR)(Val/Val) (OR = 0.76, 95% CI: 0.62-0.92). For tumor protein 53 (TP53), N-acetyl transferase 1 (NAT1), NAT2, glutathione-S transferase Mu (GSTM1), glutathione-S transferase Theta (GSTT1), and glutathione-S transferase Pi (GSTP1) polymorphisms, the best estimates are sufficient to exclude a 1.7-fold increase in risk of colorectal cancer.
CONCLUSIONS: APC-I1307K, HRAS1-VNTR, and MTHFR variants represent the strongest candidates for low penetrance susceptibility alleles identified to date. Although their genotypic risks are modest, their high frequency in the population implies that they may well have considerable impact on colorectal cancer incidence. Determining precise risk estimates associated with other variants and gene-gene and gene-environment interactions will be contingent on further studies with sample sizes larger than typically used to date.
D'Cruz CM, Gunther EJ, Boxer RB, et al.c-MYC induces mammary tumorigenesis by means of a preferred pathway involving spontaneous Kras2 mutations.
Nat Med. 2001; 7(2):235-9 [PubMed
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Although the process of mammary tumorigenesis requires multiple genetic events, it is unclear to what extent carcinogenesis proceeds through preferred secondary pathways following a specific initiating oncogenic event. Similarly, the extent to which established mammary tumors remain dependent on individual mutations for maintenance of the transformed state is unknown. Here we use the tetracycline regulatory system to conditionally express the human c-MYC oncogene in the mammary epithelium of transgenic mice. MYC encodes a transcription factor implicated in multiple human cancers. In particular, amplification and overexpression of c-MYC in human breast cancers is associated with poor prognosis, although the genetic mechanisms by which c-MYC promotes tumor progression are poorly understood. We show that deregulated c-MYC expression in this inducible system results in the formation of invasive mammary adenocarcinomas, many of which fully regress following c-MYC deinduction. Approximately half of these tumors harbor spontaneous activating point mutations in the ras family of proto-oncogenes with a strong preference for Kras2 compared with Hras1. Nearly all tumors lacking activating ras mutations fully regressed following c-MYC deinduction, whereas tumors bearing ras mutations did not, suggesting that secondary mutations in ras contribute to tumor progression. These findings demonstrate that c-MYC-induced mammary tumorigenesis proceeds through a preferred secondary oncogenic pathway involving Kras2.
Pierce LM, Sivaraman L, Chang W, et al.Relationships of TP53 codon 72 and HRAS1 polymorphisms with lung cancer risk in an ethnically diverse population.
Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2000; 9(11):1199-204 [PubMed
] Related Publications
Tobacco smoking is a strong cause of lung cancer. However, because only a small proportion of smokers develop the disease, other factors, including genetic susceptibility, may be important in determining lung cancer risk. Polymorphisms in the TP53 tumor suppressor gene and HRAS1 proto-oncogene have been associated in some studies with this cancer; we sought to replicate these associations in an ethnically diverse population in Hawaii. We conducted a population-based case-control study among 334 incident lung cancer cases and 446 controls of Caucasian, Japanese, or Native Hawaiian origin. In-person interviews collected detailed information on lifestyle risk factors. DNA was extracted from peripheral blood leukocytes, and genotyping was performed using a PCR-based assay for the TP53 codon 72 polymorphism and Southern blot analysis and PCR for allelic polymorphisms in the HRAS1 minisatellite. Logistic regression analyses were used to compute odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) adjusting for smoking and other risk factors. The presence of two rare HRAS1 alleles was associated with a 2.2-fold (95% CI, 1.0-5.0) increased lung cancer risk for all ethnic groups combined. The association was present in Native Hawaiians (OR, 5.2; 95% CI, 1.1-24.4) and was suggested for Japanese (OR, 2.8; 95% CI, 0.6-12.5); no association was observed in Caucasians (OR, 0.8; 95% CI, 0.2-3.6). This association was also observed for each lung cancer cell type. The presence of only one rare allele did not increase risk for any ethnic group or cell type. No significant association was found between the TP53 codon 72 polymorphism and lung cancer [OR, 1.4 (95% CI, 0.8-2.4) for the Pro/Pro genotype compared with the Arg/Arg genotype]. This study suggests that the presence of two rare HRAS1 alleles confers an increased lung cancer risk in Native Hawaiians and Japanese but possibly not in Caucasians. The amino acid replacement of arginine by proline at codon 72 of TP53 appears not to be important in determining lung cancer risk in this population.
Lindstedt BA, Ryberg D, Zienolddiny S, et al.Hras1 VNTR alleles as susceptibility markers for lung cancer: relationship to microsatellite instability in tumors.
Anticancer Res. 1999 Nov-Dec; 19(6C):5523-7 [PubMed
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PURPOSE: To further evaluate lung cancer risk associated with rare Hras1 VNTR alleles and possible biological mechanisms.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: The Hras1 VNTR was genotyped in 295 lung cancer patients and 500 healthy controls by PCR and high resolution electrophoresis. Microsatellite alterations were examined in 168 tumors by PCR and capillary electrophoresis.
RESULTS: 35 Hras1 VNTR alleles were found, of which 24 were defined as rare. A relative risk of 3.3 (95% CI; 1.9-6.0) associated with rare alleles was obtained using the total groups. Increased risk was significant both for males and females. When a matched control group was used, a relative risk of 12.7 (95% CI; 1.7-93.9) was calculated for individuals with rare alleles at the Hras1 VNTR locus. A low frequency of microsatellite alterations was observed (4.7%) in lung tumors. The frequency of altered microsatellite loci was higher among patients with rare Hras1 VNTR alleles than among patients with common alleles.
CONCLUSION: Rare Hras1 VNTR alleles are associated with lung cancer risk, and a genetic mechanism which increases allelic diversity may be involved.
Weitzel JN, Ding S, Larson GP, et al.The HRAS1 minisatellite locus and risk of ovarian cancer.
Cancer Res. 2000; 60(2):259-61 [PubMed
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Approximately 10% of ovarian cancers are due to mutations in highly penetrant inherited cancer susceptibility genes. The highly polymorphic HRAS1 minisatellite locus, located just downstream from the proto-oncogene H-ras-1 on chromosome 11p, consists of four common progenitor alleles and several dozen rare alleles, which apparently derive from mutations of the progenitors. Mutant alleles of this locus represent a major risk factor for cancers of the breast, colorectum, and bladder, and it was found that BRCAI mutation carriers with at least one rare HRAS1 allele have a greater risk of ovarian cancer than BRCA1 carriers with only common HRAS1 alleles. There are no conclusive studies of HRAS1 alleles in sporadic epithelial ovarian cancer. A case-control study of HRAS1 alleles was performed on DNA from 136 Caucasian patients with ovarian cancer and 108 cancer-free controls using conventional (Southern blot) and PCR-based methods to determine the frequency of rare HRAS1 alleles. Odds ratios (ORs) were estimated using unconditional logistic regression methods. A single degree of freedom test was used to assess the significance of linear trend across categories of increasing exposure. A statistically significant association between rare HRAS1 alleles and risk of ovarian cancer was observed [OR, 1.70; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.03-2.80; P = 0.04]. Having only one rare allele was associated with a relative risk of 1.66 (95% CI, 0.91-3.01), whereas having two rare alleles increased the relative risk to 2.86 (95% CI, 0.75-10.94; trend P = 0.03). Analysis of HRAS1 allele types by the age of the case at diagnosis revealed that younger cases (<45 years) had a borderline statistically significant increased association with rare HRAS1 alleles compared to older cases (> or = 0 years; OR, 1.89; 95% CI, 0.90-3.98; P = 0.09). Rare HRAS1 alleles contribute to ovarian cancer predisposition in the general population. Thus, the HRAS1-variable number of tandem repeats locus may function as a modifier of ovarian cancer risk in both sporadic and hereditary ovarian cancer.
Firgaira FA, Seshadri R, McEvoy CR, et al.HRAS1 rare minisatellite alleles and breast cancer in Australian women under age forty years.
J Natl Cancer Inst. 1999; 91(24):2107-11 [PubMed
] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: A recent meta-analysis of 23 studies supported the empirically derived hypothesis that women who lack one of the four common minisatellite alleles at the HRAS1 locus are at increased risk of breast cancer. These studies relied on visual sizing of alleles on electrophoretic gels and may have underreported rare alleles. We determined whether this hypothesis applied to early-onset breast cancer by using a new method to size minisatellite alleles.
METHODS: We conducted a population-based, case-control-family study of 249 Australian women under 40 years old at diagnosis of a first primary breast cancer and 234 randomly selected women, frequency matched for age. We sized HRAS1 minisatellite alleles with an Applied Biosystems model 373 automated DNA sequencer and GENESCAN(TM) software. All P values are two-sided.
RESULTS: We found no association of rare alleles with breast cancer, before or after adjustment for risk factors and irrespective of how their effects were modeled (crude odds ratio = 1.04; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.071-1.53; P =.8). The rare allele frequency was 0. 173 (95% CI = 0.149-0.197), three times the pooled estimate of 0.058 (95% CI = 0.050-0.066) from previous studies (P<.001), and was similar for case subjects, 0.177 (95% CI = 0.143-0.221), and control subjects, 0.169 (95% CI = 0.135-0.203) (P =.7).
CONCLUSION: There was no support for an association between rare HRAS1 alleles and the risk of early-onset breast cancer, despite 80% power to detect effects of the magnitude of those associations (1.7-fold) previously suggested.
IMPLICATIONS: The question of whether cancer risk is associated with rare minisatellite HRAS1 alleles needs to be revisited with the use of new methods that have a greater ability to distinguish rare alleles from similarly sized common alleles.
Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin and melanoma are the rare progeny of precancerous lesions that usually remain stable or regress. For SCC the sequence appears to include TP53 mutant clones in normal skin; dysplasia; carcinoma in situ; and SCC. When such lesions are contiguous, their TP53 mutations are consistent with a single clonal lineage. The set of TP53 mutations in tumours is more restricted than in precancers, suggesting additional selection. Melanoma lies at the end of a continuum including mole, dysplastic naevus, radial growth melanoma and vertical growth. The genetics of melanoma is less clear. Basal cell carcinomas seem to arise without a precancer and contain mutations in TP53 and PTCH. Childhood sunlight exposure directs the location and frequency of precancers. For melanoma, its effects on intermittently exposed body sites are superimposed on the effect at sites chronically exposed. SCC precancers and tumours, BCC tumours and melanoma cell lines contain UV induced mutations. Sun exposed skin of normal individuals contains thousands of small clones of TP53 mutated cells. Predisposition to sunlight induced precancer is a multigenic trait involving factors such as hair and skin color, DNA repair proficiency and mole type and number. These each contribute a relative risk on the order of two to four. Familial predisposition to dysplastic naevi carries a larger risk. The cell of origin for melanoma is uncontroversial, and the proposed hair follicle origin of BCC is consistent with the presence of stem cells in the bulge region. The origin of SCCs and the arrangement of interfollicular stem cell compartments are less clear. Clonal expansion of the initial mutated cell may also be driven by sunlight. When a mutation confers apoptosis resistance, as TP53 mutations do, subsequent UV exposure will be more likely to kill normal cells than mutants. The latter can expand into a clone, only one cell of which need be mutated again. Immunosuppressant drugs may have the same effect as UV, facilitating the clonal expansion of precancers. In the absence of exogenous influences, mutant clones and precancers tend to regress. There is little evidence that regression of precancers is immunological, though regression of melanoma appears to be. The chemotherapeutic agent 5-FU causes regression of dysplasias by removing initiated cells, perhaps by enhancing apoptosis. In contrast, retinoic acid temporarily suppresses clonal expansion. Most sunscreens are mutagenic, with as yet unknown consequences. Mice develop dysplasias and SCCs after UV irradiation. Initiation and clonal expansion of dysplasias is UV driven, but conversion to SCC and subsequent growth involve spontaneous events. With chemical carcinogens mice develop papillomas that usually regress and thus are precancers. Tumour promotion yields abundant low risk papillomas that contain Hras1 mutations but rarely progress to SCC. High risk papillomas are infrequent but do convert to SCC, particularly if re-treated with mutagens. Conversion to SCC is associated with TP53 mutations. The mechanisms of multiple mutation and clonal expansion observed in human and mouse systems, respectively, are beginning to converge into a coherent understanding of precancerous events in skin.
Rosell R, Calvo R, Sánchez JJ, et al.Genetic susceptibility associated with rare HRAS1 variable number of tandem repeats alleles in Spanish non-small cell lung cancer patients.
Clin Cancer Res. 1999; 5(7):1849-54 [PubMed
] Related Publications
The highly polymorphic HRAS1 variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR), which maps 1 kb downstream from the human H-ras1 gene, has been described as an inherited predisposing factor in many human cancers. Here, we investigated the association between the presence of rare HRAS1 minisatellite alleles and lung cancer in the population studied. Four hundred sixty-six HRAS1 VNTR alleles from 233 lung cancer patients and 892 alleles from 446 unaffected controls were typed using PCR-long agarose gel electrophoresis assay of peripheral blood lymphocyte DNA. Rare alleles were differentiated from common alleles (a1, a2, a3, and a4) by shifts in electrophoretic mobility. Odds ratio was calculated to evaluate increased risk of lung cancer associated to the presence of rare HRAS1 alleles. A higher percentage of rare HRAS1 VNTR alleles in lung cancer patients than in unaffected controls (32.7 versus 21.9%) was confirmed. The presence of rare alleles was associated with an increased risk of lung cancer (odds ratio = 1.68; P < or = 0.0001), indicating a genetic predisposition to lung cancer. No differences based on other clinicopathological variables were observed. Furthermore, a meta-analysis showed a higher distribution of rare alleles in our study of Caucasian Spaniards than was found in other studies of American and Northern European Caucasian populations. We conclude that the presence of rare HRAS1 VNTR alleles may be an inherited predisposing factor in lung cancer. This presence can be easily determined from peripheral blood samples by PCR-based methods. Furthermore, interracial variations in allele frequencies and variations between Caucasian subpopulations suggest that genetic variations may be involved in susceptibility to lung oncogenesis, especially in certain ethnic populations.