Approximately 40 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that are associated with prostate cancer (PCa) risk have been identified through genome-wide association studies (GWAS). However, these GWAS-identified PCa risk-associated SNPs can explain only a small proportion of heritability (~13%) of PCa risk. Gene-gene interaction is speculated to be one of the major factors contributing to the so-called missing heritability. To evaluate the gene-gene interaction and PCa risk, we performed a two-stage genome-wide gene-gene interaction scan using a novel statistical approach named "Boolean Operation-based Screening and Testing". In the first stage, we exhaustively evaluated all pairs of SNP-SNP interactions for ~500,000 SNPs in 1,176 PCa cases and 1,101 control subjects from the National Cancer Institute Cancer Genetic Markers of Susceptibility (CGEMS) study. No SNP-SNP interaction reached a genome-wide significant level of 4.4E-13. The second stage of the study involved evaluation of the top 1,325 pairs of SNP-SNP interactions (P interaction <1.0E-08) implicated in CGEMS in another GWAS population of 1,964 PCa cases from the Johns Hopkins Hospital (JHH) and 3,172 control subjects from the Illumina iControl database. Sixteen pairs of SNP-SNP interactions were significant in the JHH population at a P interaction cutoff of 0.01. However, none of the 16 pairs of SNP-SNP interactions were significant after adjusting for multiple tests. The current study represents one of the first attempts to explore the high-dimensional etiology of PCa on a genome-wide scale. Our results suggested a list of SNP-SNP interactions that can be followed in other replication studies.
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