Biological processes, properties and molecular wiring diagrams of candidate low-penetrance breast cancer susceptibility genes

TitleBiological processes, properties and molecular wiring diagrams of candidate low-penetrance breast cancer susceptibility genes
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsBonifaci N, Berenguer A, Diez J, Reina O, Medina I, Dopazo J, Moreno V, Pujana MA
Journal TitleBMC Med Genomics
Keywordsgene set, GWAS, SNP

ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Recent advances in whole-genome association studies (WGASs) for human cancer risk are beginning to provide the part lists of low-penetrance susceptibility genes. However, statistical analysis in these studies is complicated by the vast number of genetic variants examined and the weak effects observed, as a result of which constraints must be incorporated into the study design and analytical approach. In this scenario, biological attributes beyond the adjusted statistics generally receive little attention and, more importantly, the fundamental biological characteristics of low-penetrance susceptibility genes have yet to be determined. METHODS: We applied an integrative approach for identifying candidate low-penetrance breast cancer susceptibility genes, their characteristics and molecular networks through the analysis of diverse sources of biological evidence. RESULTS: First, examination of the distribution of Gene Ontology terms in ordered WGAS results identified asymmetrical distribution of Cell Communication and Cell Death processes linked to risk. Second, analysis of 11 different types of molecular or functional relationships in genomic and proteomic data sets defined the "omic" properties of candidate genes: i/ differential expression in tumors relative to normal tissue; ii/ somatic genomic copy number changes correlating with gene expression levels; iii/ differentially expressed across age at diagnosis; and iv/ expression changes after BRCA1 perturbation. Finally, network modeling of the effects of variants on germline gene expression showed higher connectivity than expected by chance between novel candidates and with known susceptibility genes, which supports functional relationships and provides mechanistic hypotheses of risk. CONCLUSION: This study proposes that cell communication and cell death are major biological processes perturbed in risk of breast cancer conferred by low-penetrance variants, and defines the common omic properties, molecular interactions and possible functional effects of candidate genes and proteins.