The Expression Quantitative Trait Loci in Immune Response Genes Impact the Characteristics and Survival of Colorectal Cancer

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The impact of germline variants on the regulation of the expression of tumor microenvironment (TME)-based immune response genes remains unclear. Expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) provide insight into the effect of downstream target genes (eGenes) regulated by germline-associated variants (eVariants). Through eQTL analyses, we illustrated the relationships between germline eVariants, TME-based immune response eGenes, and clinical outcomes. In this study, both RNA sequencing data from primary tumor and germline whole-genome sequencing data were collected from patients with stage III colorectal cancer (CRC). Ninety-nine high-risk subjects were subjected to immune response gene expression analyses. Seventy-seven subjects remained for further analysis after quality control, of which twenty-two patients (28.5%) experienced tumor recurrence. We found that 65 eQTL, including 60 germline eVariants and 22 TME-based eGenes, impacted the survival of cancer patients. For the recurrence prediction model, 41 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) achieved the best area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.93. In total, 19 survival-associated eGenes were identified among the DEGs. Most of these genes were related to the regulation of lymphocytes and cytokines. A high expression of HGF, CCR5, IL18, FCER1G, TDO2, IFITM2, and LAPTM5 was significantly associated with a poor prognosis. In addition, the FCER1G eGene was associated with tumor invasion, tumor nodal stage, and tumor site. The eVariants that regulate the TME-based expression of FCER1G, including rs2118867 and rs12124509, were determined to influence survival and chromatin binding preferences. We also demonstrated that FCER1G and co-expressed genes in TME were related to the aggregation of leukocytes via pathway analysis. By analyzing the eQTL from the cancer genome using germline variants and TME-based RNA sequencing, we identified the eQTL in immune response genes that impact colorectal cancer characteristics and survival.

Original languageEnglish
Article number315
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Feb

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Biochemistry


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