Multiple independent variants at the TERT locus are associated with telomere length and risks of breast and ovarian cancer

Stig E Bojesen, Karen A Pooley, Sharon E Johnatty, Jonathan Beesley, Kyriaki Michailidou, Jonathan P. Tyrer, Stacey L Edwards, Hilda A Pickett, Howard C Shen, Chanel E Smart, Kristine M Hillman, Phuong L Mai, Kate Lawrenson, Michael D Stutz, Yi Lu, Rod Karevan, Nicholas Woods, Rebecca L Johnston, Juliet D French, Xiaoqing ChenMaren Weischer, Sune Fallgaard Nielsen, Melanie J Maranian, Maya Ghoussaini, Shahana Ahmed, Caroline Baynes, Manjeet K Bolla, Qin Wang, Joe Dennis, Lesley McGuffog, Daniel Barrowdale, Andrew Lee, Sue Healey, Michael Lush, Daniel C Tessier, Daniel Vincent, Françis Bacot, Ignace Vergote, Sandrina Lambrechts, Evelyn Despierre, Harvey A Risch, Anna González-Neira, Mary Anne Rossing, Guillermo Pita, Jennifer A Doherty, Nuria Alvarez, Melissa C Larson, Brooke L Fridley, Nils Schoof, Nick Orr, Australian Cancer Study

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TERT-locus SNPs and leukocyte telomere measures are reportedly associated with risks of multiple cancers. Using the Illumina custom genotyping array iCOGs, we analyzed ∼480 SNPs at the TERT locus in breast (n = 103,991), ovarian (n = 39,774) and BRCA1 mutation carrier (n = 11,705) cancer cases and controls. Leukocyte telomere measurements were also available for 53,724 participants. Most associations cluster into three independent peaks. The minor allele at the peak 1 SNP rs2736108 associates with longer telomeres (P = 5.8 × 10(-7)), lower risks for estrogen receptor (ER)-negative (P = 1.0 × 10(-8)) and BRCA1 mutation carrier (P = 1.1 × 10(-5)) breast cancers and altered promoter assay signal. The minor allele at the peak 2 SNP rs7705526 associates with longer telomeres (P = 2.3 × 10(-14)), higher risk of low-malignant-potential ovarian cancer (P = 1.3 × 10(-15)) and greater promoter activity. The minor alleles at the peak 3 SNPs rs10069690 and rs2242652 increase ER-negative (P = 1.2 × 10(-12)) and BRCA1 mutation carrier (P = 1.6 × 10(-14)) breast and invasive ovarian (P = 1.3 × 10(-11)) cancer risks but not via altered telomere length. The cancer risk alleles of rs2242652 and rs10069690, respectively, increase silencing and generate a truncated TERT splice variant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-84, 384e1-2
JournalNature Genetics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013


  • Alternative Splicing
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Breast Neoplasms
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chromatin
  • DNA Methylation
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Genetic Loci
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Luciferases
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Ovarian Neoplasms
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Risk Factors
  • Telomerase
  • Telomere
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

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    Bojesen, S. E., Pooley, K. A., Johnatty, S. E., Beesley, J., Michailidou, K., Tyrer, J. P., Edwards, S. L., Pickett, H. A., Shen, H. C., Smart, C. E., Hillman, K. M., Mai, P. L., Lawrenson, K., Stutz, M. D., Lu, Y., Karevan, R., Woods, N., Johnston, R. L., French, J. D., ... Australian Cancer Study (2013). Multiple independent variants at the TERT locus are associated with telomere length and risks of breast and ovarian cancer. Nature Genetics, 45(4), 371-84, 384e1-2.