Genetic variation in the one-carbon transfer pathway and ovarian cancer risk

Cancer Res. 2008 Apr 1;68(7):2498-506. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-07-5165.


Dysfunction in enzymes involved in one-carbon (1-C) metabolism can lead to increased chromosomal strand breaking and abnormal methylation patterns, which are both associated with cancer risk. Availability of 1-C units may modify risk. We investigated the association of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) in 21 genes in the 1-C transfer pathway among 829 Caucasian cases with primary epithelial ovarian cancer and 941 frequency-matched unaffected controls enrolled at Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN) and Duke University (Durham, NC) and examined risk modification by multivitamin supplement use. Multivariable-adjusted SNP-specific logistic regression and haplotype analyses were done for 180 SNPs and false positive report probabilities (FPRP) were calculated. Each copy of the minor allele in SHMT1 intron 5 A>G (rs9909104) was associated with epithelial ovarian cancer [odds ratio (OR), 1.2; 95% confidence interval (95% CI), 1.0-1.4; P trend = 0.02; FPRP = 0.16] and a 5-SNP SHMT1 haplotype was associated with decreased risk (P = 0.01; FPRP = 0.09). Three SNPs in DNMT3A were associated with risk among multivitamin supplement users: 3' untranslated region (UTR) C>G (rs13420827: OR, 0.8; 95% CI, 0.6-1.0; P interaction = 0.006; FPRP = 0.54), intron 6 G>A (rs11887120: OR, 0.8; 95% CI, 0.7-1.0; P interaction = 0.007; FPRP = 0.57), and intron 22 A>T (rs11695471: OR, 1.2; 95% CI, 1.0-1.5; P interaction = 0.01; FPRP = 0.66). These data extend previous findings from other cancers of a role for SHMT1 in ovarian cancer, and provide evidence that SNPs in methylation and DNA synthesis reactions are associated with risk of ovarian cancer. Interventions with modifiable factors such as multivitamin intake may reduce risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferase 1
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases / genetics
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genetic Variation
  • Glycine Hydroxymethyltransferase / genetics
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor) / genetics
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide


  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferase 1
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases
  • DNA methyltransferase 3A
  • Glycine Hydroxymethyltransferase
  • SHMT protein, human
  • Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor)
  • 5-methylthioribose kinase