S Ruiz-Llorente, C Montero-Conde, RL Milne, CM Moya, A Cebrián, R Letón, A Cascón, F Mercadillo, I Landa, S Borrego, G Pérez de Nanclares, C Alvarez-Escolá, JA Díaz-Pérez, A Carracedo, M Urioste, A González-Neira, J Benítez, P Santisteban, J Dopazo, BA Ponder, M Robledo, Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma Clinical Group
To date, few association studies have been done to better understand the genetic basis for the development of sporadic medullary thyroid carcinoma (sMTC). To identify additional low-penetrance genes, we have done a two-stage case-control study in two European populations using high-throughput genotyping. We selected 417 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) belonging to 69 genes either related to RET signaling pathway/functions or involved in key processes for cancer development. TagSNPs and functional variants were included where possible. These SNPs were initially studied in the largest known series of sMTC cases (n = 266) and controls (n = 422), all of Spanish origin. In stage II, an independent British series of 155 sMTC patients and 531 controls was included to validate the previous results. Associations were assessed by an exhaustive analysis of individual SNPs but also considering gene- and linkage disequilibrium-based haplotypes. This strategy allowed us to identify seven low-penetrance genes, six of them (STAT1, AURKA, BCL2, CDKN2B, CDK6, and COMT) consistently associated with sMTC risk in the two case-control series and a seventh (HRAS) with individual SNPs and haplotypes associated with sMTC in the Spanish data set. The potential role of CDKN2B was confirmed by a functional assay showing a role of a SNP (rs7044859) in the promoter region in altering the binding of the transcription factor HNF1. These results highlight the utility of association studies using homogeneous series of cases for better understanding complex diseases.