Smedby KE, Foo JN, Skibola CF, Darabi H, Conde L, et al. (2011) GWAS of Follicular Lymphoma Reveals Allelic Heterogeneity at 6p21.32 and Suggests Shared Genetic Susceptibility with Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma. PLoS Genet 7(4): e1001378. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1001378
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) represents a diverse group of hematological malignancies, of which follicular lymphoma (FL) is a prevalent subtype. A previous genome-wide association study has established a marker, rs10484561 in the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II region on 6p21.32 associated with increased FL risk. Here, in a three-stage genome-wide association study, starting with a genome-wide scan of 379 FL cases and 791 controls followed by validation in 1,049 cases and 5,790 controls, we identified a second independent FL–associated locus on 6p21.32, rs2647012 (ORcombined = 0.64, Pcombined = 2×10−21) located 962 bp away from rs10484561 (r2<0.1 in controls). After mutual adjustment, the associations at the two SNPs remained genome-wide significant (rs2647012:ORadjusted = 0.70, Padjusted = 4×10−12; rs10484561:ORadjusted = 1.64, Padjusted = 5×10−15). Haplotype and coalescence analyses indicated that rs2647012 arose on an evolutionarily distinct haplotype from that of rs10484561 and tags a novel allele with an opposite (protective) effect on FL risk. Moreover, in a follow-up analysis of the top 6 FL–associated SNPs in 4,449 cases of other NHL subtypes, rs10484561 was associated with risk of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (ORcombined = 1.36, Pcombined = 1.4×10−7). Our results reveal the presence of allelic heterogeneity within the HLA class II region influencing FL susceptibility and indicate a possible shared genetic etiology with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. These findings suggest that the HLA class II region plays a complex yet important role in NHL.