Knowledge-based analyses reveal new candidate genes associated with risk of hepatitis B virus related hepatocellular carcinoma.

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Knowledge-based analyses reveal new candidate genes associated with risk of hepatitis B virus related hepatocellular carcinoma.

BMC Cancer. 2020 May 11;20(1):403

Authors: Jiang D, Deng J, Dong C, Ma X, Xiao Q, Zhou B, Yang C, Wei L, Conran C, Zheng SL, Ng IO, Yu L, Xu J, Sham PC, Qi X, Hou J, Ji Y, Cao G, Li M

Abstract
BACKGROUND: Recent genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have suggested several susceptibility loci of hepatitis B virus (HBV)-related hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) by statistical analysis at individual single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). However, these loci only explain a small fraction of HBV-related HCC heritability. In the present study, we aimed to identify additional susceptibility loci of HBV-related HCC using advanced knowledge-based analysis.
METHODS: We performed knowledge-based analysis (including gene- and gene-set-based association tests) on variant-level association p-values from two existing GWASs of HBV-related HCC. Five different types of gene-sets were collected for the association analysis. A number of SNPs within the gene prioritized by the knowledge-based association tests were selected to replicate genetic associations in an independent sample of 965 cases and 923 controls.
RESULTS: The gene-based association analysis detected four genes significantly or suggestively associated with HBV-related HCC risk: SLC39A8, GOLGA8M, SMIM31, and WHAMMP2. The gene-set-based association analysis prioritized two promising gene sets for HCC, cell cycle G1/S transition and NOTCH1 intracellular domain regulates transcription. Within the gene sets, three promising candidate genes (CDC45, NCOR1 and KAT2A) were further prioritized for HCC. Among genes of liver-specific expression, multiple genes previously implicated in HCC were also highlighted. However, probably due to small sample size, none of the genes prioritized by the knowledge-based association analyses were successfully replicated by variant-level association test in the independent sample.
CONCLUSIONS: This comprehensive knowledge-based association mining study suggested several promising genes and gene-sets associated with HBV-related HCC risks, which would facilitate follow-up functional studies on the pathogenic mechanism of HCC.

PMID: 32393195 [PubMed – in process]