Study published in Nature Genetics shows that the susceptibility locus codes for, among other things, nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunits.

An international group of researchers found two SNPs linked to an increased risk of lung cancer. Both of them are located on chromosome 15 inside a region that contains genes for nicotinic acetylcholine receptor alpha subunits 3 and 5, which were already suspected of playing a role in lung cancer progression.

The team collected DNA from 1,154 smokers who have lung cancer and 1,137 smokers without lung cancer. Each DNA sample was analyzed for SNPs that differed between the two groups. They then analyzed the top 10 SNPs in an additional 5,075 DNA samples from smokers with and without lung cancer.

The SNPs were consistently associated with lung cancer risk and are weakly associated with smoking behavior such as nicotine dependence, the investigators reports.

The team consisted of researchers from  University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, University of London’s Institute of Cancer Research, University of Cambridge, and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The study is published in the April 3 issue of Nature Genetics.

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