Novel colon cancer susceptibility variants identified from a genome-wide association study in African Americans

Int J Cancer. 2017 Jun 15;140(12):2728-2733. doi: 10.1002/ijc.30687. Epub 2017 Mar 28.


Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in ethnic/racial minority populations can help to fine-map previously identified risk regions or discover new risk loci because of the genetic diversity in these populations. We conducted a GWAS of colorectal cancer (CRC) in 6,597 African Americans (1,894 cases and 4,703 controls) (Stage 1) and followed up the most promising markers in a replication set of 2,041 participants of African descent (891 cases and 1,150 controls) (Stage 2). We identified a novel variant, rs56848936 in the gene SYMPK at 19q13.3, associated with colon cancer risk (odds ratio 0.61 for the risk allele G, p = 2.4 × 10-8 ). The frequency of the G allele was 0.06 in African Americans, compared to <0.01 in Europeans, Asians and Amerindians in the 1000 Genomes project. In addition, a variant previously identified through fine-mapping in this GWAS in the region 19q13.1, rs7252505, was confirmed to be more strongly associated with CRC in the African American replication set than the variant originally reported in Europeans (rs10411210). The association between rs7252505 and CRC was of borderline significance (p = 0.05) in a Hispanic population GWAS with 1,611 CRC cases and 4,330 controls. With the three datasets combined, the odds ratio was 0.84 for the risk allele A (95% confidence interval 0.79-0.89, p = 3.7 × 10-8 ). This study further highlights the importance of conducting GWAS studies in diverse ancestry populations.

Keywords: African American; Hispanic; colorectal cancer; common variant; minority.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alleles
  • Asian People / genetics
  • Black or African American / genetics
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 19 / genetics
  • Colonic Neoplasms / ethnology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / ethnology
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics*
  • Genome-Wide Association Study / methods*
  • Genotype
  • Hispanic or Latino / genetics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide*
  • Risk Factors


  • Nuclear Proteins
  • SYMPK protein, human