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Paper Chase

Integrative eQTL-based analyses reveal the biology of breast cancer risk loci.

Cell. Jan 31, 2013;152(3):633-41.
Li Q, Seo JH, Stranger B, McKenna A, Pe'er I, Laframboise T, Brown M, Tyekucheva S, Freedman ML.

Department of Medical Oncology, The Center for Functional Cancer Epigenetics, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


Germline determinants of gene expression in tumors are infrequently studied due to the complexity of transcript regulation caused by somatically acquired alterations. We performed expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL)-based analyses using the multi-level information provided in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). Of the factors we measured, cis-acting eQTLs accounted for 1.2% of the total variation of tumor gene expression, while somatic copy-number alteration and CpG methylation accounted for 7.3% and 3.3%, respectively. eQTL analyses of 15 previously reported breast cancer risk loci resulted in the discovery of three variants that are significantly associated with transcript levels (false discovery rate [FDR] < 0.1). Our trans-based analysis identified an additional three risk loci to act through ESR1, MYC, and KLF4. These findings provide a more comprehensive picture of gene expression determinants in breast cancer as well as insights into the underlying biology of breast cancer risk loci.