Genome-wide association study identified copy number variants associated with sporadic colorectal cancer risk

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Multiple single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have been associated with colorectal cancer (CRC) risk. The role of structural or copy number variants (CNV) in CRC, however, remained unclear. We investigated the role of CNVs in patients with sporadic CRC.


A genome-wide association study (GWAS) was performed on 1000 Singapore Chinese patients aged 50 years or more with no family history of CRC and 1000 ethnicity-matched, age-matched and gender-matched healthy controls using the Affymetrix SNP 6 platform. After 16 principal component corrections, univariate and multivariate segmentations followed by association testing were performed on 1830 samples that passed quality assurance tests.


A rare CNV region (CNVR) at chromosome 14q11 (OR=1.92 (95% CI 1.59 to 2.32), p=2.7e-12) encompassing CHD8, and common CNVR at chromosomes 3q13.12 (OR=1.54 (95% CI 1.33 to 1.77), p=2.9e-9) and 12p12.3 (OR=1.69 (95% CI 1.41 to 2.01), p=2.8e-9) encompassing CD47 and RERG/ARHGDIB, respectively, were significantly associated with CRC risk. CNV loci were validated in an independent replication panel using an optimised copy number assay. Whole-genome expression data in matched tumours of a subset of cases demonstrated that copy number loss at CHD8 was significantly associated with dysregulation of several genes that perturb the Wnt, TP53 and inflammatory pathways.


A rare CNVR at 14q11 encompassing the chromatin modifier CHD8 was significantly associated with sporadic CRC risk. Copy number loss at CHD8 altered expressions of genes implicated in colorectal tumourigenesis.

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