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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008 Jun;17(6):1368-73. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-07-2830.

Pathway analysis of single-nucleotide polymorphisms potentially associated with glioblastoma multiforme susceptibility using random forests.

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Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco, 44 Page Street, Suite 503, San Francisco, CA 94143-1215, USA.


Glioma is a complex disease that is unlikely to result from the effect of a single gene. Genetic analysis at the pathway level involving multiple genes may be more likely to capture gene-disease associations than analyzing genes one at a time. The current pilot study included 112 Caucasians with glioblastoma multiforme and 112 Caucasian healthy controls frequency matched to cases by age and gender. Subjects were genotyped using a commercially available (ParAllele/Affymetrix) assay panel of 10,177 nonsynonymous coding single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) spanning the genome known at the time the panel was constructed. For this analysis, we selected 10 pathways potentially involved in gliomagenesis that had SNPs represented on the panel. We performed random forests (RF) analyses of SNPs within each pathway group and logistic regression to assess interaction among genes in the one pathway for which the RF prediction error was better than chance and the permutation P < 0.10. Only the DNA repair pathway had a better than chance classification of case-control status with a prediction error of 45.5% and P = 0.09. Three SNPs (rs1047840 of EXO1, rs12450550 of EME1, and rs799917 of BRCA1) of the DNA repair pathway were identified as promising candidates for further replication. In addition, statistically significant interactions (P < 0.05) between rs1047840 of EXO1 and rs799917 or rs1799966 of BRCA1 were observed. Despite less than complete inclusion of genes and SNPs relevant to glioma and a small sample size, RF analysis identified one important biological pathway and several SNPs potentially associated with the development of glioblastoma.

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