MSR1 repeats modulate gene expression and affect risk of breast and prostate cancer

A. M. Rose (Lead / Corresponding author), A. Krishan, C. F. Chakarova, L. Moya, S. Chambers, M. Hollands, J. C. Illingworth, S. M. G. Williams, H. E. James, A. Z. Shah, C. N. A. Palmer, A. Chakravarti, J. N. Berg, J. Batra, S. S. Bhattacharya

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Background: MSR1 repeats are a 36-38 bp minisatellite element that have recently been implicated in the regulation of gene expression, through copy number variation (CNV). Patients and methods: Bioinformatic and experimental methods were used to assess the distribution of MSR1 across the genome, evaluate the regulatory potential of such elements and explore the role of MSR1 elements in cancer, particularly non-familial breast cancer and prostate cancer. Results: MSR1s are predominately located at chromosome 19 and are functionally enriched in regulatory regions of the genome, particularly regions implicated in short-range regulatory activities (H3K27ac, H3K4me1 and H3K4me3). MSR1-regulated genes were found to have specific molecular roles, such as serine-protease activity (P=4.80×10 -7) and ion channel activity (P=2.7×10 -4). The kallikrein locus was found to contain a large number of MSR1 clusters, and at least six of these showed CNV. An MSR1 cluster was identified within KLK14, with 9 and 11 copies being normal variants. A significant association with the 9-copy allele and non-familial breast cancer was found in two independent populations (P=0.004; P=0.03). In the white British population, the minor allele conferred an increased risk of 1.21-3.51 times for all non-familial disease, or 1.7-5.3 times in earlyonset disease. The 9-copy allele was also found to be associated with increased risk of prostate cancer in an independent population (odds ratio=1.27-1.56; P=0.009). Conclusions: MSR1 repeats act as molecular switches that modulate gene expression. It is likely that CNV of MSR1 will affect risk of development of various forms of cancer, including that of breast and prostate. The MSR1 cluster at KLK14 represents the strongest risk factor identified to date in non-familial breast cancer and a significant risk factor for prostate cancer. Analysis of MSR1 genotype will allow development of precise stratification of disease risk and provide a novel target for therapeutic agents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1292-1303
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of Oncology
Issue number5
Early online date2 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


  • Breast cancer
  • Gene expression
  • Kallikrein genes
  • MSR1
  • Prostate cancer
  • Repeat elements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology


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