Pathway analysis of cervical cancer genome-wide association study highlights the MHC region and pathways involved in response to infection.

Chen D, Enroth S, Ivansson E, Gyllensten U

Hum. Mol. Genet. 23 (22) 6047-6060 [2014-11-15; online 2014-06-16]

Cervical cancer is caused by infection with human papillomavirus (HPV). A genome-wide association study (GWAS) has identified several susceptibility loci for cervical cancer, but they explain only a small fraction of cervical cancer heritability. Other variants with weaker effect may be missed due to the stringent significance threshold. To identify important pathways in cervical carcinogenesis, we performed a two-stage pathway analysis in two independent GWASs in the Swedish population, using the single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) ratio test. The 565 predefined pathways from Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes and BioCarta databases were systematically evaluated in the discovery stage (1034 cases and 3948 controls with 632,668 SNPs) and the suggestive pathways were further validated in the replication stage (616 cases and 506 controls with 341,358 SNPs). We found 12 pathways that were significant in both stages, and these were further validated using set-based analysis. For 10 of these pathways, the effect was mainly due to genetic variation within the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) region. In addition, we identified a set of novel candidate genes outside the MHC region in the pathways denoted 'Staphylococcus aureus infection' and 'herpes simplex infection' that influenced susceptibility to cervical cancer (empirical P = 4.99 × 10(-5) and 4.99 × 10(-5) in the discovery study; empirical P = 8.98 × 10(-5) and 0.009 in the replication study, respectively). Staphylococcus aureus infection may evoke an inflammatory response that inadvertently enhances malignant progression caused by HPV infection, and Herpes simplex virus-2 infection may act in conjunction with HPV infection to increase the risk of cervical carcinoma development. These findings provide new insights into the etiology of cervical cancer.

Affiliated researcher

PubMed 24934695

DOI 10.1093/hmg/ddu304

Crossref 10.1093/hmg/ddu304

pii: ddu304