An extended genome-wide association study identifies novel susceptibility loci for nasopharyngeal carcinoma

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To further identify novel susceptibility loci of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC), we here extended our previous genome-wide association study (GWAS) by boosting statistical power with larger sample size and validating more SNPs in the ranking list based on the GWAS P-values. The discovery stage consisting of 463,250 SNPs in 1,583 cases and 2,979 controls of southern Chinese ancestry revealed 1,257 top SNPs to be associated with NPC, which were brought forward for validation in 1,925 cases and 1,947 controls of southern Chinese. Further, 11 SNPs were selected for another independent validation in 3,538 cases and 3,644 controls of southern Chinese. The joint analysis with 7,046 cases and 8,570 controls resulted in two associations surpassing genome-wide significance (P < 5 × 10−8), including TERT-CLPTM1L at chromosome 5p15 (rs401681; P = 2.65 × 10−14; odds ratio, OR = 0.82) and CIITA at chromosome 16p13 (rs6498114; P = 4.01 × 10−9; OR = 0.87). Conditional analysis revealed that rs401681 accounts for all the tested associations at TERT-CLPTM1L locus, which has been linked with multiple cancers’ susceptibilities. Moreover, bioinformatics analyses showed that both SNPs are located in the regulatory regions and correlated with the expression of nearby genes (rs401681 for CLPTM1L and TERT, and rs6498114 for CIITA). CLPTM1L and TERT have been implicated in cancers, and CIITA is considered as the “master control factor” for the expression of NPC-associated MHC class II genes. These suggested that both SNPs might be functional. Altogether, our findings expand our understanding of the genetic contribution to NPC risk and provide novel biological insights into NPC pathogenesis.

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