Owen M Wilkins, Melissa Eliot, Guojun Li, Jiang Gui, Brock C Christensen, Rondi A Butler, Alexander J Titus, Karl T Kelsey, Erich M Sturgis
Polymorphisms in microRNAs and their target sites can disrupt microRNA-dependent gene regulation, and have been associated with cancer susceptibility. However, genome-scale analyses of microRNA-related genetic variation in cancer are lacking. We tested the associations of ~40,000 common (MAF≥5%), microRNA-related single nucleotide polymorphisms (miR-SNPs), with risk of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) in a discovery population, and validated selected loci in an independent population among a total of 2,198 cases and 2,180 controls. Joint analyses across the discovery and validation populations revealed six novel miR-SNP associations with risk of HNSCC. An upstream variant of MIR548H4 (rs7834169), replicated its association with overall HNSCC risk as well as risk of oral cavity cancer. Four other variants were specifically associated with oral cavity cancer risk (rs16914640, rs1134367, rs7306991 and rs1373756). 3'UTR variant of HADH, rs221347, and rs4975616, located within known cancer risk locus 5p15.33, were specific to risk of laryngeal cancer. High confidence predicted microRNA binding sites were identified for CLEC2D, LOC37443, KDM8 and HADH overlapping rs16914640, rs7306991, rs1134367 and rs221347, respectively. Furthermore, we identified several microRNA interactions with KDM8 and HADH predicted to be disrupted by genetic variation at rs1134367 and rs221347. These results suggest microRNA-related genetic variation may contribute to the genetic susceptibility of HNSCC, and that more powerful evaluation of this class of genetic variation and their relationship with cancer risk is warranted.