Publications by authors named "Rong Zhong"

169 Publications

rs641738 Is Not Associated With the Risk of Hepatocellular Carcinoma or Persistent Hepatitis B Infection.

Front Oncol 2021 25;11:639438. Epub 2021 May 25.

Department of Laboratory Medicine, Tongji Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China.

Objective: A hot genetic variant, rs641738 within the and , was recently reported to be associated with several liver diseases. However, the results remain controversial. Therefore, this study aimed to explore the role of rs641738 in the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and persistent hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection.

Methods: We first conducted a case-control study that included 779 HCC cases and 1412 cancer-free controls. Controls consisted of 678 persistent HBV carriers and 734 spontaneously recovered subjects. The gene variant rs641738 was genotyped using the MassARRAY platform. The results were analyzed in five genetic models using multivariate logistic regression analyses. Next, we performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to further explore the role of this variant in HCC risk.

Results: The results suggested no association between rs641738 and HCC risk in most genetic models (all > 0.05). Although a marginally significant association was observed in TT . CC ( = 0.037) and the recessive models ( = 0.044). The meta-analysis of 2135 HCC cases and 4388 controls supported that this variant was not related to HCC risk, even in the TT . CC and recessive models. We also determined that this variant did not influence persistent HBV infection.

Conclusion: Our work highlights that rs641738 is not associated with the risk of HCC or persistent HBV infection. This study provides some clues to identify the "truth" of potential disease-related genetic factors in the post-genome era.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fonc.2021.639438DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8185222PMC
May 2021

Serum concentrations of organochlorine pesticides, biomarkers of oxidative stress, and risk of breast cancer.

Environ Pollut 2021 May 25;286:117386. Epub 2021 May 25.

Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, School of Public Health, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei, PR China; Key Laboratory of Environment and Health, Ministry of Education & Ministry of Environmental Protection, State Key Laboratory of Environmental Health (incubating), School of Public Health, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei, PR China. Electronic address:

Studies have documented that exposure to organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) is linked with breast cancer, but the underlying biological mechanisms are still unknown. This study included 313 women diagnosed with breast cancer and 313 controls in Wuhan, China, and measured 18 OCPs in serum and 3 oxidative stress biomarkers in urine. Multivariable adjusted regression models were used to evaluate the associations among OCPs, oxidative stress biomarkers, and breast cancer. The mediating effect of oxidative stress was assessed by mediation analysis. We observed that most OCPs were positively associated with risk of breast cancer (all FDR-P values < 0.05 or 0.10). Moreover, we found that p,p'-DDT, p,p'-DDD, dieldrin, heptachlor, and heptachlor epoxide were positively associated with 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal-mercapturic acid (HNE-MA) and 8-iso-prostaglandin F (8-isoPGF), which in turn were positively associated with risk of breast cancer. Mediation analysis indicated that HNE-MA and 8-isoPGF mediated the positive associations between these OCPs and risk of breast cancer, with mediating proportion ranging from 6.23% to 19.9%. Our results suggest that lipid peroxidation may mediate the positive associations between OCP exposures and risk of breast cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2021.117386DOI Listing
May 2021

A genetic variant conferred high expression of CAV2 promotes pancreatic cancer progression and associates with poor prognosis.

Eur J Cancer 2021 Jul 8;151:94-105. Epub 2021 May 8.

Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Key Laboratory for Environment and Health, School of Public Health, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Sciences and Technology, Wuhan, China. Electronic address:

Aim: This study aimed to identify the functional genes and genetic variants associated with the prognosis of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) and reveal the mechanism underlying their prognostic roles.

Methods: First, we implement a two-stage exome-wide association study in a total of 1070 patients to identify the genetic variant correlated with PDAC prognosis. Then we performed fine mapping through bioinformatics analysis and dual-luciferase reporter assays to reveal the causal functional variant and prognostic gene. Next, we established the gene knockdown, knockout, and overexpression cell lines with small interfering RNA, CRISPR/Cas9, and lentivirus, respectively, and investigated the gene function on cell proliferation and migration in vivo and in vitro. Finally, we performed the RNA-seq to elucidate downstream genes and mechanisms altering PDAC prognosis.

Results: We identified the CAV1-CAV2 locus tagged by rs8940 was significantly associated with PDAC prognosis, and rs10249656 in the 3'untranslated region of CAV2 was the real functional variant, which upregulated CAV2 expression through abolishing miR-548s binding. We observed upregulated CAV2 in PDAC and the higher expression correlated with worse prognosis. Transient knockdown of CAV2 inhibited PDAC migration without affecting proliferation rate. Knockout of CAV2 suppressed PDAC progression and metastasis, whereas stable overexpression of CAV2 promoted. Overexpressed CAV2 promoted the PDAC progression and metastasis via perturbing genes in the focal adhesion (CCND1, IGTA1, and ZYX) and extracellular matrix organisation (PLOD2, CAST, and ITGA1) pathways mechanically.

Conclusion: These findings shed light on an important role of CAV2 on PDAC progression and the prognostic impact of its genetic variation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejca.2021.04.008DOI Listing
July 2021

Prognostic significance of myeloid immune cells and their spatial distribution in the colorectal cancer microenvironment.

J Immunother Cancer 2021 Apr;9(4)

Program in MPE Molecular Pathological Epidemiology, Department of Pathology, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Background: Myeloid cells represent an abundant yet heterogeneous cell population in the colorectal cancer microenvironment, and their roles remain poorly understood.

Methods: We used multiplexed immunofluorescence combined with digital image analysis to identify CD14 monocytic and CD15 granulocytic cells and to evaluate their maturity (HLA-DR and CD33), immunosuppressive potential (ARG1) and proximity to cytokeratin (KRT)-positive tumor cells in 913 colorectal carcinomas. Using covariate data of 4465 incident colorectal cancers in two prospective cohort studies, the inverse probability weighting method was used with multivariable-adjusted Cox proportional hazards models to assess cancer-specific mortality according to ordinal quartiles (Q1-Q4) of myeloid cell densities. Immune cell-tumor cell proximity was measured with the nearest neighbor method and the G-cross function, which determines the likelihood of any tumor cell having at least one immune cell of the specified type within a certain radius.

Results: Higher intraepithelial (=0.0002; HR for Q4 (vs Q1), 0.48, 95% CI 0.31 to 0.76) and stromal ( <0.0001; HR for Q4 (vs Q1), 0.42, 95% CI 0.29 to 0.63) densities of CD14HLA-DR cells were associated with lower colorectal cancer-specific mortality while, conversely, higher intraepithelial densities of CD14HLA-DR cells were associated with higher colorectal cancer-specific mortality (=0.0003; HR for Q4 (vs Q1), 1.78, 95% CI 1.25 to 2.55). Spatial analyses indicated that CD15 cells were located closer to tumor cells than CD14 cells, and CD14HLA-DR cells were closer to tumor than CD14HLA-DR cells (p<0.0001). The G-cross proximity measurement, evaluating the difference in the likelihood of any tumor cell being colocated with at least one CD14HLA-DR cell versus CD14HLA-DR cell within a 20 µm radius, was associated with lower colorectal cancer-specific mortality ( <0.0001; HR for Q4 (vs Q1), 0.37, 95% CI 0.24 to 0.57).

Conclusions: Myeloid cell populations occur in spatially distinct distributions and exhibit divergent, subset-specific prognostic significance in colorectal cancer, with mature CD14HLA-DR and immature CD14HLA-DR monocytic phenotypes most notably showing opposite associations. These results highlight the prognostic utility of multimarker evaluation of myeloid cell infiltrates and reveal a previously unrecognized degree of spatial organization for myeloid cells in the immune microenvironment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jitc-2020-002297DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8098931PMC
April 2021

Tumor Long Interspersed Nucleotide Element-1 (LINE-1) Hypomethylation in Relation to Age of Colorectal Cancer Diagnosis and Prognosis.

Cancers (Basel) 2021 Apr 22;13(9). Epub 2021 Apr 22.

Program in MPE Molecular Pathological Epidemiology, Department of Pathology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

Evidence indicates the pathogenic role of epigenetic alterations in early-onset colorectal cancers diagnosed before age 50. However, features of colorectal cancers diagnosed at age 50-54 (hereafter referred to as "intermediate-onset") remain less known. We hypothesized that tumor long interspersed nucleotide element-1 (LINE-1) hypomethylation might be increasingly more common with decreasing age of colorectal cancer diagnosis. In 1356 colorectal cancers, including 28 early-onset and 66 intermediate-onset cases, the tumor LINE-1 methylation level measured by bisulfite-PCR-pyrosequencing (scaled 0 to 100) showed a mean of 63.6 (standard deviation (SD) 10.1). The mean tumor LINE-1 methylation level decreased with decreasing age (mean 64.7 (SD 10.4) in age ≥70, 62.8 (SD 9.4) in age 55-69, 61.0 (SD 10.2) in age 50-54, and 58.9 (SD 12.0) in age <50; < 0.0001). In linear regression analysis, the multivariable-adjusted β coefficient (95% confidence interval (CI)) (vs. age ≥70) was -1.38 (-2.47 to -0.30) for age 55-69, -2.82 (-5.29 to -0.34) for age 50-54, and -4.54 (-8.24 to -0.85) for age <50 ( = 0.0003). Multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios (95% CI) for LINE-1 methylation levels of ≤45, 45-55, and 55-65 (vs. >65) were 2.33 (1.49-3.64), 1.39 (1.05-1.85), and 1.29 (1.02-1.63), respectively ( = 0.0005). In conclusion, tumor LINE-1 hypomethylation is increasingly more common with decreasing age of colorectal cancer diagnosis, suggesting a role of global DNA hypomethylation in colorectal cancer arising in younger adults.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers13092016DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8122644PMC
April 2021

Palladium-Catalyzed Regioselective C-H Functionalization/Annulation Reaction of Amides and Allylbenzenes for the Synthesis of Isoquinolinones and Pyridinones.

J Org Chem 2021 Apr 22;86(7):5255-5264. Epub 2021 Mar 22.

School of Pharmaceutical Science, Zhejiang Chinese Medical University, Hangzhou 310053, P. R. China.

A regioselective C-H functionalization/annulation reaction of -sulfonyl amides and allylbenzenes through a palladium-catalyzed C(sp)-H allylation/aminopalladation/β-H elimination/isomerization sequence has been reported. Various aryl and alkenyl carboxamides are found to be efficient substrates to construct isoquinolinones and pyridinones in up to 96% yield. Using ambient air as the terminal oxidant is another advantage regarding environmental friendliness and operational simplicity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.joc.1c00150DOI Listing
April 2021

Upregulation of Long Noncoding RNA_GAS5 Suppresses Cell Proliferation and Metastasis in Laryngeal Cancer via Regulating PI3K/AKT/mTOR Signaling Pathway.

Technol Cancer Res Treat 2021 Jan-Dec;20:1533033821990074

The Second School of Clinical Medicine, Southern Medical University Guangzhou, Guangdong, Baiyun, China.

Background: Laryngeal cancer is one of the most common malignant tumors among head and neck cancers. Accumulating studies have indicated that long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) play an important role in laryngeal cancer occurrence and progression, however, the functional roles and relative regulatory mechanisms of lncRNA growth arrest-specific transcript 5 (GAS5) in laryngeal cancer progression remain unclear.

Methods: The expression of lncRNA GAS5 in both laryngeal cancer tissues and cell lines was evaluated using quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) assay. The relationships between lncRNA GAS5 expression and clinical parameters were also analyzed. To determine the biological function of lncRNA GAS5, a lncRNA GAS5-specific plasmid was first transfected into laryngeal cancer cells using lentiviral technology. Cell counting kit-8 assay, flow cytometry, and Transwell assays were used to detect cell proliferation, apoptosis, cycle distribution, and metastasis abilities, respectively. Furthermore, in vivo cell growth experiments were also performed using nude mice. Additionally, western blotting was performed to identify the underlying regulatory mechanism.

Results: In the current study, lncRNA GAS5 was downregulated in laryngeal cancer tissues and its low expression was closely associated with poor tumor differentiation, advanced TNM stage, lymph node metastasis, and shorter overall survival time. In addition, lncRNA GAS5 upregulation significantly inhibited laryngeal cancer cell proliferation both and . Moreover, in response to lncRNA GAS5 overexpression, more laryngeal cancer cells were arrested at the G2/M stage, accompanied by increased cell apoptosis rates and suppressed migration and invasion capacities. Mechanistically, our data showed that the overexpression of lncRNA GAS5 significantly regulated the PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway.

Conclusion: LncRNA GAS5 might act as a suppressor gene during laryngeal cancer development, as it suppressed cell proliferation and metastasis by regulating the PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway; thus, lncRNA GAS5 is a promising therapeutic biomarker for the treatment of laryngeal cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1533033821990074DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7923983PMC
March 2021

Organocatalyzed Cascade Aza-Michael/Aldol Reaction for Atroposelective Construction of 4-Naphthylquinoline-3-carbaldehydes.

J Org Chem 2021 Mar 24;86(5):4262-4273. Epub 2021 Feb 24.

College of Pharmaceutical Science, Zhejiang Chinese Medical University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang 311400, People's Republic of China.

An organocatalyzed cascade aza-Michael/Aldol reaction of alkynals with -(2-(1-naphthoyl)phenyl)benzenesulfonamides has been disclosed. In the presence of a secondary amine catalyst, this method enables the construction of a series of axially chiral 4-naphthylquinoline-3-carbaldehydes in yields of up to 97% with enantioselectivities of up to 96%. Several further transformations of the synthesized products were investigated to demonstrate their synthetic applications.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.joc.1c00163DOI Listing
March 2021

TiO Nanowires with Doped g-CN Nanoparticles for Enhanced H Production and Photodegradation of Pollutants.

Nanomaterials (Basel) 2021 Jan 19;11(1). Epub 2021 Jan 19.

School of Civil Engineering and Architecture, East China Jiaotong University, Nanchang 330013, China.

With the rapid consumption of fossil fuels, along with the ever-increasing environmental pollution, it is becoming a top priority to explore efficient photocatalysts for the production of renewable hydrogen and degradation of pollutants. Here, we fabricated a composite of g-CN/TiO via an in situ growth method under the conditions of high-temperature calcination. In this method, TiO nanowires with a large specific surface area could provide enough space for loading more g-CN nanoparticles to obtain CN/TiO composites. Of note, the g-CN/TiO composite could effectively photocatalyze both the degradation of several pollutants and production of hydrogen, both of which are essential for environmental governance. Combining multiple characterizations and experiments, we found that the heterojunction constructed by the TiO and g-CN could increase the photocatalytic ability of materials by prompting the separation of photogenerated carriers. Furthermore, the photocatalytic mechanism of the g-CN/TiO composite was also clarified in detail.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nano11010254DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7835803PMC
January 2021

Identification of genetic variants in mA modification genes associated with pancreatic cancer risk in the Chinese population.

Arch Toxicol 2021 03 21;95(3):1117-1128. Epub 2021 Jan 21.

Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Key Laboratory for Environment and Health, School of Public Health, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, 430030, China.

N6-Methyladenosine (mA) is the most prevalent modification of RNA in eukaryotes, and is associated with many cellular processes and even the development of cancers. We hypothesized that single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in mA modification genes, including its "writers", "erasers" and "readers", might affect the mA functions and associate with the susceptibility to pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). We first conducted a two-stage case-control study in Chinese population to interrogate all SNPs in 22 mA modification genes. In the discovery stage, a total of 2735 SNPs were genotyped in 980 patients and 1991 controls. Then, the promising SNP was replicated in another independent population consisting of 858 cases and 2084 controls. As a result, we found the rs7495 in 3'UTR of hnRNPC was significantly associated with increased risk of PDAC in both stages (combined odds ratio = 1.22, 95% confidence interval = 1.12-1.32, P = 2.39 × 10). To further reveal the biological function of rs7495 and hnRNPC, we performed a series of biochemical experiments. Luciferase reporter assays indicated that rs7495G allele promoted hnRNPC expression through disrupting a putative binding site for has-miR-183-3p. Cell viability assay demonstrated that knockdown of hnRNPC suppressed the proliferation of PDAC cells. RNA-seq analysis suggested that as an mA "reader", hnRNPC played an important role in RNA biological processes. In conclusion, our findings elucidated that rs7495G could confer higher risk of PDAC via promoting the expression of hnRNPC through a miRNA-mediated manner. These results provided a novel insight into the critical role of mA modification in tumorigenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00204-021-02978-5DOI Listing
March 2021

HFIP-catalyzed direct dehydroxydifluoroalkylation of benzylic and allylic alcohols with difluoroenoxysilanes.

Chem Commun (Camb) 2021 Feb;57(8):1050-1053

Advanced Research Institute and Department of Chemistry, Taizhou University, 1139 Shifu Avenue, Taizhou 318000, P. R. China.

Hexafluoroisopropanol (HFIP)-catalyzed direct dehydroxydifluoroalkylation of benzylic and allylic alcohols with difluoroenoxysilanes is developed. This procedure enables the synthesis of a broad range of α,α-difluoroketones, a class of highly valuable intermediates and building blocks in medicinal and organic chemistry. Here, we have demonstrated for the first time that HFIP could act as a powerful catalyst for fluorinated carbon-carbon bond formation. The application of this protocol in late-stage dehydroxydifluoroalkylation of potentially bioactive drugs and natural products has also been carried out.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/d0cc06980aDOI Listing
February 2021

Coffee Intake and Colorectal Cancer Incidence According to T-Cell Response.

JNCI Cancer Spectr 2020 Dec 7;4(6):pkaa068. Epub 2020 Sep 7.

Department of Pathology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Program in MPE Molecular Pathological Epidemiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.

We hypothesized that the associations between coffee intake and colorectal cancer (CRC) incidence might differ by immune cell densities in CRC tissue. Using the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, we examined the association of coffee intake with incidence of CRC classified by intraepithelial or stromal T-cell subset densities by multiplex immunofluorescence assay for CD3, CD4, CD8, CD45RO (PTPRC), and FOXP3. We applied an inverse probability-weighted Cox proportional hazardsregression model to control for selection bias and potential confounders. During follow-up of 133 924 participants (3 585 019 person-years), we documented 3161 incident CRC cases, including 908 CRC cases with available data on T-cell densities in tumor tissue. The association between coffee intake and CRC was not statistically significantly different by intraepithelial or stroma T-cell subset ( > .38). Hence, there is no sufficient evidence for differential effect of coffee intake on incidence of CRC subtypes classified by T-cell infiltrates.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jncics/pkaa068DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7771005PMC
December 2020

Correction to: Notch Signaling and Human Papillomavirus-Associated Oral Tumorigenesis.

Adv Exp Med Biol 2021 ;1287:C1

Department of Radiation and Cellular Oncology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.

Unfortunately the book was published without correcting a typo in the author name in chapter 8. The author name has been corrected now to read as follows.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-55031-8_14DOI Listing
January 2021

Rising incidence of early-onset colorectal cancer - a call to action.

Nat Rev Clin Oncol 2021 Apr 20;18(4):230-243. Epub 2020 Nov 20.

Program in Molecular Pathological Epidemiology, Department of Pathology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.

The incidence of early-onset colorectal cancer (CRC), which occurs in individuals <50 years of age, has been increasing worldwide and particularly in high-income countries. The reasons for this increase remain unknown but plausible hypotheses include greater exposure to potential risk factors, such as a Western-style diet, obesity, physical inactivity and antibiotic use, especially during the early prenatal to adolescent periods of life. These exposures can not only cause genetic and epigenetic alterations in colorectal epithelial cells but also affect the gut microbiota and host immunity. Early-onset CRCs have differential clinical, pathological and molecular features compared with later-onset CRCs. Certain existing resources can be utilized to elucidate the aetiology of early-onset CRC and inform the development of effective prevention, early detection and therapeutic strategies; however, additional life-course cohort studies spanning childhood and young adulthood, integrated with prospective biospecimen collections, omics biomarker analyses and a molecular pathological epidemiology approach, are needed to better understand and manage this disease entity. In this Perspective, we summarize our current understanding of early-onset CRC and discuss how we should strategize future research to improve its prevention and clinical management.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41571-020-00445-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7994182PMC
April 2021

Regulatory Variant as Predictor of Epirubicin-Based Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy in Luminal A Breast Cancer.

Front Oncol 2020 25;10:571517. Epub 2020 Sep 25.

Department of VIP Medical Services, National Cancer Center, National Clinical Research Center for Cancer, Cancer Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, China.

Epirubicin combined with docetaxel is the cornerstone of neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) for breast cancer. The efficacy of NAC for luminal A breast cancer patients is very limited, and single nucleotide polymorphism is one of the most important factors that influences the efficacy. Our study is aimed to explore genetic markers for the efficacy of epirubicin combined with docetaxel for NAC in patients with luminal A breast cancer. A total of 421 patients with two stages of luminal A breast cancer were enrolled in this study from 2 centers. Among them 231 patients were included in the discovery cohort and 190 patients are in the replication cohort. All patients received epirubicin 75 mg/m and docetaxel 75 mg/m on day 1, in a 21-day cycle, a cycle for 2-6 cycles. Before treatment, 2 ml of peripheral blood was collected from each patient to isolate genomic DNA. Fourteen functional variants potentially regulating epirubicin/docetaxel response genes were prioritized by CellMiner and bioinformatics approaches. Moreover, biological assays were performed to determine the effect of genetic variations on response to chemotherapy. The patients carrying rs6484711 variant A allele suffered a poor response to epirubicin and docetaxel for NAC (OR = 0.37, 95% CI: 0.18-0.74, = 0.005) in combined stage. Moreover, expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) analyses and luciferase reporter assays revealed that rs6484711 A allele significantly increased the expression of . Subsequent biological assays illustrated that upregulation of significantly reduced the apoptosis rate of breast cancer cells and enhanced the chemo-resistance to epirubicin. Our study demonstrated rs6484711 polymorphism regulating expression might predict efficacy to epirubicin based NAC in luminal A breast cancer patients. These results provided valuable information about potential role of genetic variations in individualized chemotherapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fonc.2020.571517DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7545368PMC
September 2020

Circulating liver function markers and colorectal cancer risk: A prospective cohort study in the UK Biobank.

Int J Cancer 2021 Apr 2;148(8):1867-1878. Epub 2020 Nov 2.

Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Evidence links the liver to development of colorectal cancer (CRC). However, it remains unknown how liver function may influence CRC risk in the general population. We conducted a prospective cohort study in the UK Biobank of 375 693 participants who provided blood samples in 2006 to 2010. Circulating levels of liver function markers (alanine transaminase [ALT], aspartate transaminase [AST], total bilirubin [TBIL], gamma glutamyltransferase [GGT], alkaline phosphatase [ALP], total protein [TP] and albumin [ALB]) were measured. Incident cancer cases were identified through linkage to the national cancer registry up to 2019. Repeated biomarker measurements were available from a subset of 11 320 participants who were re-assessed in 2012 to 2013. After a median follow-up of 10.0 years, we documented 2662 cases of CRC. Circulating levels of ALT, AST, TBIL, GGT, TP and ALB at baseline were inversely associated with CRC risk (P < .01), with multivariable hazard ratio (95% confidence interval) comparing decile 10 vs 1 of 0.62 (0.51-0.75), 0.63 (0.53-0.75), 0.85 (0.72-1.02), 0.74 (0.61-0.89), 0.70 (0.59-0.84) and 0.66 (0.55-0.79), respectively. Strengthened associations were found after recalibration for repeated measurements. The associations appeared stronger for proximal colon cancer than distal colon cancer and rectal cancer, but consistent for early-, mid- and late-onset CRC. In a large cohort of general population, the UK Biobank, higher circulating levels of ALT, AST, TBIL, GGT, TP and ALB, largely within the normal range, were associated with a lower risk of CRC. The findings support a link between liver function and CRC, and may spur future research on the gut-microbiota-liver axis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ijc.33351DOI Listing
April 2021

Notch Signaling and Human Papillomavirus-Associated Oral Tumorigenesis.

Adv Exp Med Biol 2021 ;1287:105-122

Department of Radiation and Cellular Oncology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.

The NOTCH pathway is critical for the development of many cell types including the squamous epithelium lining of cutaneous and mucosal surfaces. In genetically engineered mouse models, Notch1 acts as one of the first steps to commit basal keratinocytes to terminally differentiate. Similarly, in human head and neck squamous cell cancers (HNSCCs), NOTCH1 is often lost consistent with its essential tumor-suppressive role for initiating keratinocyte differentiation. However, constitutive NOTCH1 activity in the epithelium results in expansion of the spinous keratinocyte layers and impaired terminal differentiation is consistent with the role of NOTCH1 as an oncogene in other cancers, especially in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. We have previously observed that NOTCH1 plays a dual role as both a tumor suppressor and oncogene, depending on the mutational context of the tumor. Namely, gain or loss or NOTCH1 activity promotes the development of human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated cancers. The additional HPV oncogenes likely disrupt the tumor-suppressive activities of NOTCH and enable the oncogenic pathways activated by NOTCH to promote tumor growth. In this review, we detail the role of NOTCH pathway in head and neck cancers with a focus on HPV-associated cancers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-55031-8_8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7751007PMC
October 2020

The Prognostic Role of Macrophage Polarization in the Colorectal Cancer Microenvironment.

Cancer Immunol Res 2021 01 6;9(1):8-19. Epub 2020 Oct 6.

Program in MPE Molecular Pathological Epidemiology, Department of Pathology, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Macrophages are among the most common cells in the colorectal cancer microenvironment, but their prognostic significance is incompletely understood. Using multiplexed immunofluorescence for CD68, CD86, IRF5, MAF, MRC1 (CD206), and KRT (cytokeratins) combined with digital image analysis and machine learning, we assessed the polarization spectrum of tumor-associated macrophages in 931 colorectal carcinomas. We then applied Cox proportional hazards regression to assess prognostic survival associations of intraepithelial and stromal densities of M1-like and M2-like macrophages while controlling for potential confounders, including stage and microsatellite instability status. We found that high tumor stromal density of M2-like macrophages was associated with worse cancer-specific survival, whereas tumor stromal density of M1-like macrophages was not significantly associated with better cancer-specific survival. High M1:M2 density ratio in tumor stroma was associated with better cancer-specific survival. Overall macrophage densities in tumor intraepithelial or stromal regions were not prognostic. These findings suggested that macrophage polarization state, rather than their overall density, was associated with cancer-specific survival, with M1- and M2-like macrophage phenotypes exhibiting distinct prognostic roles. These results highlight the utility of a multimarker strategy to assess the macrophage polarization at single-cell resolution within the tumor microenvironment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/2326-6066.CIR-20-0527DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7785652PMC
January 2021

CancerImmunityQTL: a database to systematically evaluate the impact of genetic variants on immune infiltration in human cancer.

Nucleic Acids Res 2021 01;49(D1):D1065-D1073

Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Key Laboratory of Environmental Health of Ministry of Education, School of Public Health, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan 430030, China.

Tumor-infiltrating immune cells as integral component of the tumor microenvironment are associated with tumor progress, prognosis and responses to immunotherapy. Genetic variants have been demonstrated to impact tumor-infiltrating, underscoring the heritable character of immune landscape. Therefore, identification of immunity quantitative trait loci (immunQTLs), which evaluate the effect of genetic variants on immune cells infiltration, might present a critical step toward fully understanding the contribution of genetic variants in tumor development. Although emerging studies have demonstrated the determinants of germline variants on immune infiltration, no database has yet been developed to systematically analyze immunQTLs across multiple cancer types. Using genotype data from TCGA database and immune cell fractions estimated by CIBERSORT, we developed a computational pipeline to identify immunQTLs in 33 cancer types. A total of 913 immunQTLs across different cancer types were identified. Among them, 5 immunQTLs are associated with patient overall survival. Furthermore, by integrating immunQTLs with GWAS data, we identified 527 immunQTLs overlapping with known GWAS linkage disequilibrium regions. Finally, we constructed a user-friendly database, CancerImmunityQTL (http://www.cancerimmunityqtl-hust.com/) for users to browse, search and download data of interest. This database provides an informative resource to understand the germline determinants of immune infiltration in human cancer and benefit from personalized cancer immunotherapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/nar/gkaa805DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7778991PMC
January 2021

HFIP Promoted C3 Alkylation of Lawsone and 4-Hydroxycoumarin with Alcohols by Dehydrative Cross-Coupling.

J Org Chem 2020 08 6;85(16):10638-10647. Epub 2020 Aug 6.

Advanced Research Institute and Department of Chemistry, Taizhou University, 1139 Shifu Avenue, Taizhou 318000, P. R. China.

An environmentally benign system for the direct alkylation of lawsones and 4-hydroxycoumarins with alcohols in 1,1,1,3,3,3-hexafluoroisopropanol (HFIP) is reported. The reaction proceeded smoothly via a dehydrative cross-coupling process by utilizing the unique properties of HFIP. A variety of alkylated products and subsequent one-pot cyclized products (pyranonaphthoquinones and pyranocoumarins) could be obtained in 40-93% yields.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.joc.0c01207DOI Listing
August 2020

Nonreceptor protein tyrosine phosphatases (NRPTPs) gene family associates with the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma in a Chinese hepatitis B virus-related subjects.

Mol Carcinog 2020 08 2;59(8):980-988. Epub 2020 Jun 2.

Department of Laboratory Medicine, Tongji Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China.

Nonreceptor protein tyrosine phosphatases (NRPTPs) are reported to be associated with several human cancers, but their roles in hepatitis B virus (HBV)-related hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remain unclear. Here, we integrated bioinformatics tools, population association analyses, and biological assays to systematically screen for potentially functional single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the 17 NRPTPs genes and evaluate the effects of candidate SNPs on the risk of HCC or persistent HBV infection. A total of 790 HBV-related HCC cases and 1454 cancer-free controls were enrolled. Controls included 711 HBV persistent carriers and 743 spontaneously recovered subjects. Results demonstrated that PTPN4 rs9308777 (odds ratio [OR] = 1.25, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.06-1.49, P = .009) and PTPN12 rs350050 (OR = 1.26, 95% CI = 1.10-1.45, P = .001), were significantly associated with HCC risk, but not with persistent HBV infection risk. The cumulative risk effect of these two SNPs was more significantly increased the susceptibility to HCC (OR = 1.27, 95% CI = 1.14-1.41, P = 2.40 × 10 ). Subsequent biological assays further revealed the potential pathogenesis that PTPN4 rs9308777 might decrease the gene expression, and PTPN12 rs3750050 might promote cell proliferation by attenuating PTPN12's inhibitory activity on EGFR/ERK pathway. In summary, our integrative study highlights that PTPN4 and PTPN12 are significantly associated with HBV-related HCC risk, but do not influence persistent HBV infection. These findings shed light on the importance of the synergistic effects of regulatory and missense variants on the risk for HCC, and provide data to support personalized cancer medicine in the future.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mc.23228DOI Listing
August 2020

Functional characterization of a low-frequency V1937I variant in FASN associated with susceptibility to esophageal squamous cell carcinoma.

Arch Toxicol 2020 06 9;94(6):2039-2046. Epub 2020 May 9.

Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Key Laboratory for Environment and Health, School of Public Health, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China.

Metabolic reprogramming has been regarded as one of the core hallmarks of cancer and increased de novo fatty acid synthesis has been documented in multiple tumors including esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). Our previous exome-wide analyses found a Val1937Ile variant (rs17848945) in the 34th exon of fatty acid synthase (FASN) that showed a strong association with the risk of ESCC. In this study, we performed a series of functional assays to investigate the biological functions underlying this variant in the development of ESCC. We demonstrated that FASN was upregulated in ESCC and both knockdown and knockout of FASN significantly inhibited ESCC cell proliferation, suggesting a tumor promoter role for this gene in ESCC. Furthermore, the results showed that overexpression of FASN[I] in the ESCC cells substantially enhanced cell proliferation, compared with overexpression of FASN[V], or the control vector. Intriguingly, we found that the FASN[I] variant can enhance the enzyme activity of FASN, and, thus, increase the amount of the FASN end-product, palmitate in the ESCC cells. We also observed elevated palmitate levels in the plasma of the FASN[I] genotype carriers among a total of 632 healthy Chinese adults. In conclusion, our results suggested that the FASN V1937I variant influenced ESCC cell proliferation and susceptibility by altering the catabolic activity of FASN on palmitate. These findings may highlight an important role of palmitate metabolism in the development of ESCC and may contribute to the personalized medicine of this disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00204-020-02738-xDOI Listing
June 2020

Urinary bisphenol A and its interaction with ESR1 genetic polymorphism associated with non-small cell lung cancer: findings from a case-control study in Chinese population.

Chemosphere 2020 Sep 19;254:126835. Epub 2020 Apr 19.

Department of Laboratory Medicine, Tongji Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China. Electronic address:

Bisphenol A (BPA), a well-known endocrine disruptor, was reported to promote migration and invasion of lung cancer cells, but findings in human study is absent. A case-control study in Chinese population was conducted to evaluate the association between BPA exposure and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and explore the interaction between BPA exposure and estrogen-related genetic polymorphism on NSCLC. BPA concentrations were measured in urine samples using an UHPLC-MS method and rs2046210 in estrogen receptor α (ESR1) gene was genotyped by TaqMan genotyping system. Logistic regression was performed to estimate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) for the association analyses. As a result, 615 NSCLC cases and 615 healthy controls were enrolled from Wuhan, central China. The mean age was 58.0 (SD: 7.9) years old for controls and 59.2 (SD: 8.8) years old for cancer cases. The creatinine-adjusted BPA levels were significantly higher in NSCLC cases than that in healthy controls (median: 0.97 vs 0.73 μg/L, P < 0.001). Exposure to high levels of BPA was significantly associated with NSCLC (adjusted OR = 1.91, 95%CI: 1.39-2.62, P < 0.001 for the highest quartile). We also observed a shallow concave dose-response relationship about the overall association between BPA and NSCLC. Moreover, interaction analyses showed that BPA exposure interacted multiplicatively with rs2046210, with a marginal P value (P = 0.049), to contribute to NSCLC. In conclusion, exposure to high levels BPA may be associated with NSCLC and the relationship may be modified by genetic polymorphism in ESR1.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2020.126835DOI Listing
September 2020

N-methyladenosine mRNA methylation of regulates AKT signalling to promote PTEN-deficient pancreatic cancer progression.

Gut 2020 12 20;69(12):2180-2192. Epub 2020 Apr 20.

Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Key Laboratory for Environment and Health, School of Public Health, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Sciences and Technology, Wuhan 430030, China, Huazhong University of Science and Technology Tongji Medical College, Wuhan, China

Objective: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the most lethal cancers worldwide. Thus far, most drugs have failed to significantly improve patient survival. N-methyladenosine (mA) plays an important role in the progression of PDAC, but its aberrant regulation driven by germline variants in human diseases remains unclear.

Design: We first performed an exome-wide association analysis in 518 PDAC patients with overall survival and replicated in an independent population containing 552 PDAC patients. Then, a series of biochemical experiments in vitro and in vivo were conducted to investigate potential mechanisms of the candidate variant and its target gene underlying the PDAC progression. Moreover, the PIK3CB-selective inhibitor KIN-193 was used to block PDAC tumour growth.

Results: We identified a missense variant rs142933486 in that is significantly associated with the overall survival of PDAC by reducing the mA level, which facilitated its mRNA and protein expression levels mediated by the mA 'writer' complex (METTL13/METTL14/WTAP) and the mA 'reader' YTHDF2. The upregulation of is widely found in PDAC tumour tissues and significantly correlated with the poor prognosis of PDAC, especially in PTEN-deficient patients. We further demonstrated that overexpression substantially enhanced the proliferation and migration abilities of PTEN-deficient PDAC cells and activated AKT signalling pathway. Remarkably, KIN-193, a PIK3CB-selective inhibitor, is shown to serve as an effective anticancer agent for blocking PTEN-deficient PDAC.

Conclusions: These findings demonstrate aberrant mA homoeostasis as an oncogenic mechanism in PDAC and highlight the potential of as a therapeutic target for this disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/gutjnl-2019-320179DOI Listing
December 2020

CpG-methylation-based risk score predicts progression in colorectal cancer.

Epigenomics 2020 04 17;12(7):605-615. Epub 2020 Mar 17.

Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics & Ministry of Education Key Lab of Environment & Health, School of Public Health, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science & Technology, Wuhan, Hubei 430030, PR China.

To identify patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) who are at a truly higher risk of progression, which is key for individualized approaches to precision therapy. We developed a predictor associated with progression-free interval (PFI) using The Cancer Genome Atlas CRC methylation data. The risk score was associated with PFI in the whole cohort (p < 0.001). A nomogram consisting of the risk score and other significant clinical features was generated to predict the 3- and 5-year PFI in the whole set (area under the curve: 0.79 and 0.71, respectively). The risk score based on 23 DNA-methylation sites may serve as the basis for improved prediction of progression in patients with CRC in future clinical practice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2217/epi-2019-0300DOI Listing
April 2020

Risk SNP-Mediated Enhancer-Promoter Interaction Drives Colorectal Cancer through Both and .

Cancer Res 2020 05 3;80(9):1804-1818. Epub 2020 Mar 3.

Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Key Laboratory for Environment and Health, School of Public Health, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Sciences and Technology, Wuhan, China.

Although genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified more than 100 colorectal cancer risk loci, most of the biological mechanisms associated with these loci remain unclear. Here we first performed a comprehensive expression quantitative trait loci analysis in colorectal cancer tissues adjusted for multiple confounders to test the determinants of germline variants in established GWAS susceptibility loci on mRNA and long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) expression. Combining integrative functional genomic/epigenomic analyses and a large-scale population study consisting of 6,024 cases and 10,022 controls, we then prioritized rs174575 with a C>G change as a potential causal candidate for colorectal cancer at 11q12.2, as its G allele was associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer (OR = 1.26; 95% confidence interval = 1.17-1.36; = 2.57 × 10). rs174575 acted as an allele-specific enhancer to distally facilitate expression of both FADS2 and lncRNA AP002754.2 via long-range enhancer-promoter interaction loops, which were mediated by E2F1. AP002754.2 further activated a transcriptional activator that upregulated FADS2 expression. FADS2, in turn, was overexpressed in colorectal cancer tumor tissues and functioned as a potential oncogene that facilitated colorectal cancer cell proliferation and xenograft growth and by increasing the metabolism of PGE2, an oncogenic molecule involved in colorectal cancer tumorigenesis. Our findings represent a novel mechanism by which a noncoding variant can facilitate long-range genome interactions to modulate the expression of multiple genes including not only mRNA, but also lncRNA, which provides new insights into the understanding of colorectal cancer etiology. SIGNIFICANCE: This study provides an oncogenic regulatory circuit among several oncogenes including , and underlying the association of rs174575 with colorectal cancer risk, which is driven by long-range enhancer-promoter interaction loops. GRAPHICAL ABSTRACT: http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/canres/80/9/1804/F1.large.jpg.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-19-2389DOI Listing
May 2020

A functional variant in TNXB promoter associates with the risk of esophageal squamous-cell carcinoma.

Mol Carcinog 2020 04 13;59(4):439-446. Epub 2020 Feb 13.

Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China.

Our previous study identified a tag single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs204900 in TNXB associated with risk of esophageal squamous-cell carcinoma (ESCC) in the Chinese population. However, the functional role of TNXB and causal variants had not been interrogated in that study. In the present study, we explored the effects of TNXB expression in the development of ESCC and searched for functional variants in this gene. We found TNXB was downregulated in ESCC tumors. Using small interfering RNAs and CRISPR-Cas9 methods, we identified that both knockdown and knockout of TNXB significantly promoted ESCC cell growth in vitro, suggesting a tumor suppressor role of this gene in ESCC. Through further fine-mapping analysis, we identified that a noncoding variant in the promoter of TNXB, rs411337, predisposed to ESCC risk (odds ratio = 1.36, 95% confidence interval: 1.22-1.51, P = 9.10 × 10 ). These findings revealed the functional mechanism of TNXB in the development of ESCC and may contribute to the prevention and treatment of this disease in the future.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mc.23166DOI Listing
April 2020

Genetic variants in m6A modification genes are associated with esophageal squamous-cell carcinoma in the Chinese population.

Carcinogenesis 2020 07;41(6):761-768

Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China.

N 6-methyladenosine (m6A) is an abundant modification in RNAs that affects RNA metabolism, and it is reported to be closely related to cancer occurrence and metastasis. In this study, we focused on evaluating the associations between genetic variants in m6A modification genes and the risk of esophageal squamous-cell carcinoma (ESCC). By integrating data of our previous genome-wide association studies and the predictions of several annotation tools, we identified a single nucleotide polymorphism, rs2416282 in the promoter of YTHDC2, that was significantly associated with the susceptibility of ESCC (odds ratio = 0.84, 95% CI: 0.77-0.92, P = 2.81 × 10-4). Through further functional experiments in vitro, we demonstrated that rs2416282 regulated YTHDC2 expression. Knockdown of YTHDC2 substantially promoted the proliferation rate of ESCC cells by affecting several cancer-related signaling pathways. Our results suggested that rs2416282 contributed to ESCC risk by regulating YTHDC2 expression. This study provided us a valuable insight into the roles of genetic variants in m6A modification genes for ESCC susceptibility and may contribute to the prevention of this disease in the future.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/carcin/bgaa012DOI Listing
July 2020

Genetic Predisposition to Colon and Rectal Adenocarcinoma Is Mediated by a Super-enhancer Polymorphism Coactivating and .

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2020 04 27;29(4):850-859. Epub 2020 Jan 27.

State Key Laboratory of Environment Health (Incubation), Key Laboratory of Environment & Health (Ministry of Education), Ministry of Environmental Protection Key Laboratory of Environment and Health (Wuhan), Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China.

Background: Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified dozens of loci associated with colon and rectal adenocarcinoma risk. As tissue-specific super-enhancers (SE) play important roles in tumorigenesis, we systematically investigate SEs and inner variants in established GWAS loci to decipher the underlying biological mechanisms.

Methods: Through a comprehensive bioinformatics analysis on multi-omics data, we screen potential single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) in cancer-specific SEs, and then subject them to a two-stage case-control study containing 4,929 cases and 7,083 controls from the Chinese population. A series of functional assays, including reporter gene assays, electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSA), CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing, chromosome conformation capture (3C) assays, and cell proliferation experiments, are performed to characterize the variant's molecular consequence and target genes.

Results: The SNP rs11064124 in 12p13.31 is found significantly associated with the risk of colon and rectal adenocarcinoma with an odds ratio (OR) of 0.87 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.82-0.92, = 8.67E-06]. The protective rs11064124-G weakens the binding affinity with vitamin D receptor (VDR) and increases the enhancer's activity and interactions with two target genes' promoters, thus coactivating the transcription of and , which are both putative tumor suppressor genes for colon and rectal adenocarcinoma.

Conclusions: Our integrative study highlights an SE polymorphism rs11064124 and two susceptibility genes and in 12p13.31 for colon and rectal adenocarcinoma.

Impact: These findings suggest a novel insight for genetic pathogenesis of colon and rectal adenocarcinoma, involving transcriptional coactivation of diverse susceptibility genes via the SE element as a gene regulation hub.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-19-1116DOI Listing
April 2020