A recent meta-analysis of multiple genome-wide association and follow-up endometrial cancer case-control datasets identified a novel genetic risk locus for this disease at chromosome 14q32.33. To prioritize the functional SNP(s) and target gene(s) at this locus, we employed an in silico fine-mapping approach using genotyped and imputed SNP data for 6,608 endometrial cancer cases and 37,925 controls of European ancestry. Association and functional analyses provide evidence that the best candidate causal SNP is rs2494737. Multiple experimental analyses show that SNP rs2494737 maps to a silencer element located within AKT1, a member of the PI3K/AKT/MTOR intracellular signaling pathway activated in endometrial tumors. The rs2494737 risk A allele creates a YY1 transcription factor-binding site and abrogates the silencer activity in luciferase assays, an effect mimicked by transfection of YY1 siRNA. Our findings suggest YY1 is a positive regulator of AKT1, mediating the stimulatory effects of rs2494737 increasing endometrial cancer risk. Identification of an endometrial cancer risk allele within a member of the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway, more commonly activated in tumors by somatic alterations, raises the possibility that well tolerated inhibitors targeting this pathway could be candidates for evaluation as chemopreventive agents in individuals at high risk of developing endometrial cancer.
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