Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a leading cause of mortality worldwide. Graham Casey of the Center for Public Health Genomics and collaborators conducted a genome-wide association study meta-analysis of 100,204 CRC cases and 154,587 controls of European and east Asian ancestry, identifying 205 independent risk associations, of which 50 were unreported. They performed integrative genomic, transcriptomic and methylomic analyses across large bowel mucosa and other tissues. Transcriptome- and methylome-wide association studies revealed an additional 53 risk associations. They identified 155 high-confidence effector genes functionally linked to CRC risk, many of which had no previously established role in CRC. These have multiple different functions and specifically indicate that variation in normal colorectal homeostasis, proliferation, cell adhesion, migration, immunity and microbial interactions determines CRC risk. Crosstissue analyses indicated that over a third of effector genes most probably act outside the colonic mucosa. Their findings provide insights into colorectal oncogenesis and highlight potential targets across tissues for new CRC treatment and chemoprevention strategies.
Read the full paper in Nature.