Genetic variants of BIRC3 and NRG1 in the NLRP3 inflammasome pathway are associated with non-small cell lung cancer survival.


The nod-like receptor protein 3 (NLRP3) is one of the most characterized inflammasomes, and its genetic variation and functional dysregulation are involved in pathogenesis of several cancers. To systematically evaluate the role of NLRP3 in predicting outcomes of patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), we performed a two-phase analysis for associations between genetic variants in NLRP3 inflammasome pathway genes and NSCLC survival by using a published genome-wide association study (GWAS) dataset from the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial. We used multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression analysis with Bayesian false discovery probability (≤0.80) for multiple testing correction to evaluate associations between 20,730 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 176 genes and overall survival of 1,185 NSCLC patients from the PLCO trial. We further validated the identified significant SNPs in another GWAS dataset with survival data from 984 NSCLC patients of the Harvard Lung Cancer Susceptibility (HLCS) study. The results showed that two independent SNPs in two different genes (i.e., BIRC3 rs11225211 and NRG1 rs4733124) were significantly associated with the NSCLC overall survival, with a combined hazards ratio (HR) of 0.83 [95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.74-0.93 and P = 0.0009] and 1.18 (95% CI = 1.06-1.31) and P = 0.002], respectively. However, further expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) analysis showed no evidence for correlations between the two SNPs and mRNA expression levels of corresponding genes. These results indicated that genetic variants in the NLRP3 imflammasome pathway gene-sets might be predictors of NSCLC survival, but the molecular mechanisms underlying the observed associations warrant further investigations.







Sheng Luo

Professor of Biostatistics & Bioinformatics

Edward F. Patz

James and Alice Chen Distinguished Professor of Radiology

There are numerous ongoing clinical studies primarily focused on the early detection of cancer.

The basic science investigations in our laboratory concentration on three fundamental translational areas,

1) Development of molecular imaging probes - We have used several different approaches to develop novel imaging probes that characterize and phenotype tumors.

2) Discovery of novel lung cancer biomarkers - We explored the use of proteomics, autoantibodies, and genomics to discover blood and tissue biomarkers for early cancer detection and phenotyping of cancer.

3) Host response to cancer - We study the native immune response to tumors as this may provide cues to relevant diagnostic and therapeutic targets. Most recently we have focused on intratumoral lymphocytes and their specific tumor antigens.



Qingyi Wei

Professor Emeritus in Population Health Sciences

Qingyi Wei, MD, PhD, Professor in the Department of Medicine, is Associate Director for Cancer Control and Population Sciences, Co-leader of CCPS and Co-leader of Epidemiology and Population Genomics (Focus Area 1). He is a professor of Medicine and an internationally recognized epidemiologist focused on the molecular and genetic epidemiology of head and neck cancers, lung cancer, and melanoma. His research focuses on biomarkers and genetic determinants for the DNA repair deficient phenotype and variations in cell death. He is Editor-in-Chief of the open access journal "Cancer Medicine" and Associate Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Molecular Epidemiology and Genetics.

Area of Expertise: Epidemiology

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