Background: Nucleotide excision repair is a vital response to DNA damage, including damage from tobacco exposure. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) in the nucleotide excision repair pathway may encode alterations that affect DNA repair function and therefore influence the risk of pancreatic cancer development. Methods: A clinic-based case-control study in non-Hispanic white persons compared 1,143patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma with 1,097 healthy controls. Twenty-seven genes directly and indirectly involved in the nucleotide excision repair pathway were identified and 236 tag-SNPs were selected from 26 of these (one had no SNPs identified). Association studies were done at the gene level by principal components analysis, whereas recursive partitioning analysis was utilized to identify potential gene-gene and gene-environment interactions within the pathway. At the individual SNP level, adjusted additive, dominant, and recessive models were investigated, and gene-environment interactions were also assessed. Results: Gene level analyses showed an association of the MMS19L genotype (chromosome 10q24.1) with altered pancreatic cancer risk (P = 0.023). Haplotype analysis of MMS19L also showed a significant association (P = 0.0132). Analyses of seven individual SNPs in this gene showed both protective and risk associations for minor alleles, broadly distributed across patient subgroups defined by smoking status, sex, and age. Conclusion: In a candidate pathway SNP association study analysis, common variation in a nucleotide excision repair gene, MMS19L, was associated with the risk of pancreatic cancer.
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