SNP rs16906252C>T is an expression and methylation quantitative trait locus associated with an increased risk of developing MGMT-methylated colorectal cancer


Purpose: Methylation of the MGMT promoter is the major cause of O6-methylguanine methyltransferase deficiency in cancer and has been associated with the T variant of the promoter enhancer SNP rs16906252C>T. We sought evidence for an association between the rs16906252C>T genotype and increased risk of developing a subtype of colorectal cancer featuring MGMT methylation, mediated by genotype-dependent epigenetic silencing within normal tissues. Experimental Design: By applying a molecular pathologic epidemiology case-control study design, associations between rs16906252C>T and risk for colorectal cancer overall, and colorectal cancer stratified by MGMT methylation status, were estimated using multinomial logistic regression in two independent retrospective series of colorectal cancer cases and controls. The test sample comprised 1,054 colorectal cancer cases and 451 controls from Sydney, Australia. The validation sample comprised 612 colorectal cancer cases and 245 controls from the Australasian Colon Cancer Family Registry (ACCFR). To determine whether rs16906252C>T was linked to a constitutively altered epigenetic state, quantitative allelic expression and methylation analyses were performed in normal tissues. Results: An association between rs16906252C>T and increased risk of developing MGMT-methylated colorectal cancer in the Sydney sample was observed [OR, 3.3; 95% confidence interval (CI), 2.0-5.3; P < 0.0001], which was replicated in the ACCFR sample (OR, 4.0; 95% CI, 2.4-6.8; P < 0.0001). The T allele demonstrated about 2.5-fold reduced transcription in normal colorectal mucosa from cases and controls and was selectively methylated in a minority of normal cells, indicating that rs16906252C>T represents an expression and methylation quantitative trait locus. Conclusions: We provide evidence that rs16906252C>T is associated with elevated risk for MGMT-methylated colorectal cancer, likely mediated by constitutive epigenetic repression of the T allele. ©2016 AACR.

Clinical Cancer Research