Genome-wide association and transcriptome studies identify target genes and risk loci for breast cancer

Manuel A. Ferreira, Eric R. Gamazon, Fares Al-Ejeh, Kristiina Aittomäki, Irene L. Andrulis, Hoda Anton-Culver, Adalgeir Arason, Volker Arndt, Kristan J. Aronson, Banu K. Arun, Ella Asseryanis, Jacopo Azzollini, Judith Balmaña, Daniel R. Barnes, Daniel Barrowdale, Matthias W. Beckmann, Sabine Behrens, Javier Benitez, Marina Bermisheva, Katarzyna BiałkowskaCarl Blomqvist, Natalia V. Bogdanova, Stig E. Bojesen, Manjeet K. Bolla, Ake Borg, Hiltrud Brauch, Hermann Brenner, Annegien Broeks, Barbara Burwinkel, Trinidad Caldés, Maria A. Caligo, Daniele Campa, Ian Campbell, Federico Canzian, Jonathan Carter, Brian D. Carter, Jose E. Castelao, Jenny Chang-Claude, Stephen J. Chanock, Hans Christiansen, Wendy K. Chung, Kathleen B. M. Claes, Christine L. Clarke, Julian Adlard, Klaartje van Engelen, Liselotte van Hest, Theo A. M. van Os, Klaartje van Engelen, Liselotte van Hest, Theo A. M. van Os, EMBRACE Collaborators, GC-HBOC Study Collaborators, GEMO Study Collaborators, ABCTB Investigators, HEBON Investigators, BCFR Investigators

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Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified more than 170 breast cancer susceptibility loci. Here we hypothesize that some risk-associated variants might act in non-breast tissues, specifically adipose tissue and immune cells from blood and spleen. Using expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) reported in these tissues, we identify 26 previously unreported, likely target genes of overall breast cancer risk variants, and 17 for estrogen receptor (ER)-negative breast cancer, several with a known immune function. We determine the directional effect of gene expression on disease risk measured based on single and multiple eQTL. In addition, using a gene-based test of association that considers eQTL from multiple tissues, we identify seven (and four) regions with variants associated with overall (and ER-negative) breast cancer risk, which were not reported in previous GWAS. Further investigation of the function of the implicated genes in breast and immune cells may provide insights into the etiology of breast cancer.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1741
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

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