Journal Article

Polymorphisms of one-carbon-metabolizing genes and risk of breast cancer in a population-based study

Xinran Xu, Marilie D. Gammon, Heping Zhang, James G. Wetmur, Manlong Rao, Susan L. Teitelbaum, Julie A. Britton, Alfred I. Neugut, Regina M. Santella and Jia Chen

in Carcinogenesis

Volume 28, issue 7, pages 1504-1509
Published in print July 2007 | ISSN: 0143-3334
Published online March 2007 | e-ISSN: 1460-2180 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/carcin/bgm061
Polymorphisms of one-carbon-metabolizing genes and risk of breast cancer in a population-based study

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One-carbon metabolism facilitates the crosstalk between genetic and epigenetic processes and plays critical roles in both DNA methylation and DNA synthesis, making it a good candidate for studying the risk of breast cancer. We previously reported that polymorphisms in methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) in one-carbon pathway were associated with breast cancer risk in the population-based Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project. Herein, we systematically investigated putatively functional polymorphisms of seven other one-carbon-metabolizing genes in relation to the breast cancer risk in the same population. Except for a slight indication of increased risk of breast cancer associated with the double repeat (2R) allele in the thymidylate synthase (TYMS) 5′-untranslated region (UTR) (P, trend = 0.07), polymorphisms in the other six genes did not substantially modify the risk of breast cancer, or did they modify the risk associated with dietary intakes of folate and related B vitamins. However, we observed a significant multiplicative interaction between the MTHFR 677C>T and the TYMS 5′-UTR polymorphisms (P = 0.02). We used a recursive partitioning method, RTREE, in an attempt to tease out important or rate-limiting genes encoding these intricately related enzymes. Results from RTREE analyses indicate that MTHFR and TYMS are the two leading rate-limiting enzymes in the pathway, consistent with our epidemiological findings. Our findings underscore the importance of one-carbon metabolism in breast cancer etiology. Although the pathway is a network of interrelated enzymes, redundancy exists; evaluating the rate-limiting enzyme and its interaction with environment and other genes within the same pathway is critical in assessing breast cancer risk.

Journal Article.  4099 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics

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