Global gene expression as a function of germline genetic variation
Human Molecular Genetics
Common, functional, germline genetic polymorphisms have been associated with clinical cancer outcomes. Little attention has been paid to the potential phenotypic consequences of germline genetic variation on downstream genes. We determined the germline status of 16 well-characterized functional polymorphisms in 126 children with newly diagnosed acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). We assessed whether global gene expression profiles of diagnostic ALL blasts from the same patients differed by
... germline polymorphic genotypes. Gene expression values were adjusted for ALL-subtype-specific patterns. Of the 16 loci, only the UGT1A1 promoter repeat polymorphism [A(TA)nTAA] (UGT1A1 * 28 ) and GSTM1 deletion were significant predictors of global gene expression in a supervised approach, which divided patients based on their germline genotypes [UGT1A1: 124 probe sets, false discovery rate (FDR) 5 13%, P 0.0031; GSTM1: 112 probe sets, FDR 5 42.5%, P 0.0084]. Genes whose expression distinguished the UGT1A1 (TA) 7/7 genotype from the other UGT1A1 genotypes included HDAC1, RELA and SLC2A1; those that distinguished the GSTM1 null genotype from non-null genotype included NBS1 and PRKR. In an unsupervised approach, the gene expression profiles using the entire array delineated two major clusters of patients. The only germline genotype frequency that differed between the two clusters was UGT1A1 (P 5 0.002; Fisher's exact test). Although their expression is limited to specific tissues, both GSTM1 and UGT1A1 are involved in the conjugation (and thus transport, excretion and lipophilicity) of a broad range of endobiotics and xenobiotics, which could plausibly have consequences for gene expression in different tissues.