OBJECTIVES - Clinical studies show that Asians (ASN) are more susceptible to toxicities associated with platinum-containing regimens. We hypothesized that studying ASN as an 'enriched phenotype' population could enable the discovery of novel genetic determinants of platinum susceptibility.
METHODS - Using well-genotyped lymphoblastoid cell lines from the HapMap, we determined cisplatin and carboplatin cytotoxicity phenotypes (IC50s) for ASN, Caucasians (CEU), and Africans (YRI). IC50s were used in genome-wide association studies.
RESULTS - ASN were most sensitive to platinums, corroborating clinical findings. ASN genome-wide association studies produced 479 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associating with cisplatin susceptibility and 199 with carboplatin susceptibility (P<10). Considering only the most significant variants (P<9.99x10), backwards elimination was then used to identify reduced-model SNPs, which robustly described the drug phenotypes within ASN. These SNPs comprised highly descriptive genetic signatures of susceptibility, with 12 SNPs explaining more than 95% of the susceptibility phenotype variation for cisplatin, and eight SNPs approximately 75% for carboplatin. To determine the possible function of these variants in ASN, the SNPs were tested for association with differential expression of target genes. SNPs were highly associated with the expression of multiple target genes, and notably, the histone H3 family was implicated for both drugs, suggesting a platinum-class mechanism. Histone H3 has repeatedly been described as regulating the formation of platinum-DNA adducts, but this is the first evidence that specific genetic variants might mediate these interactions in a pharmacogenetic manner. Finally, to determine whether any ASN-identified SNPs might also be important in other human populations, we interrogated all 479/199 SNPs for association with platinum susceptibility in an independent combined CEU/YRI population. Three unique SNPs for cisplatin and 10 for carboplatin replicated in CEU/YRI.
CONCLUSION - Enriched 'platinum susceptible' populations can be used to discover novel genetic determinants governing interindividual platinum chemotherapy susceptibility.