Modifier genes and susceptibility to colorectal cancer in individuals with Lynch syndrome

Mala Pande, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Lynch syndrome, is caused by inherited germ-line mutations in the DNA mismatch repair genes resulting in cancers at an early age, predominantly colorectal (CRC) and endometrial cancers. Though the median age at onset for CRC is about 45 years, disease penetrance varies suggesting that cancer susceptibility may be modified by environmental or other low-penetrance genes. Genetic variation due to polymorphisms in genes encoding metabolic enzymes can influence carcinogenesis by alterations in the expression and activity level of the enzymes. Variation in MTHFR, an important folate metabolizing enzyme can affect DNA methylation and DNA synthesis and variation in xenobiotic-metabolizing enzymes can affect the metabolism and clearance of carcinogens, thus modifying cancer risk. This study examined a retrospective cohort of 257 individuals with Lynch syndrome, for polymorphisms in genes encoding xenobiotic-metabolizing enzymes-- CYP1A1 (I462V and MspI), EPHX1 (H139R and Y113H), GSTP1 (I105V and A114V), GSTM1 and GSTT1 (deletions) and folate metabolizing enzyme--MTHFR (C677T and A1298C). In addition, a series of 786 cases of sporadic CRC were genotyped for CYP1A1 I462V and EPHX1 Y113H to assess gene-gene interaction and gene-environment interaction with smoking in a case-only analysis. Prominent findings of this study were that the presence of an MTHFR C677T variant allele was associated with a 4 year later age at onset for CRC on average and a reduced age-associated risk for developing CRC (Hazard ratio: 0.55; 95% confidence interval: 0.36–0.85) compared to the absence of any variant allele in individuals with Lynch syndrome. Similarly, Lynch syndrome individuals heterozygous for CYP1A1 I462V A>G polymorphism developed CRC an average of 4 years earlier and were at a 78% increased age-associated risk (Hazard ratio for AG relative to AA: 1.78; 95% confidence interval: 1.16-2.74) than those with the homozygous wild-type genotype. Therefore these two polymorphisms may be additional susceptibility factors for CRC in Lynch syndrome. In the case-only analysis, evidence of gene-gene interaction was seen between CYP1A1 I462V and EPHX1 Y113H and between EPHX1 Y113H and smoking suggesting that genetic and environmental factors may interact to increase sporadic CRC risk. Implications of these findings are the ability to identify subsets of high-risk individuals for targeted prevention and intervention.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Public health|Epidemiology|Oncology

Recommended Citation

Pande, Mala, "Modifier genes and susceptibility to colorectal cancer in individuals with Lynch syndrome" (2007). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3283551.