BACKGROUND: Understanding the biological differences between sexes in cancer is essential for personalized treatment and prevention. We hypothesized that the extreme downregulation of chromosome Y gene expression (EDY) is a signature of cancer risk in men and the functional mediator of the reported association between the mosaic loss of chromosome Y (LOY) and cancer. METHODS: We advanced a method to measure EDY from transcriptomic data. We studied EDY across 47 nondiseased tissues from the Genotype Tissue-Expression Project (n = 371) and its association with cancer status across 12 cancer studies from The Cancer Genome Atlas (n = 1774) and seven other studies (n = 7562). Associations of EDY with cancer status and presence of loss-off function mutations in chromosome X were tested with logistic regression models, and a Fisher's test was used to assess genome-wide association of EDY with the proportion of copy number gains. All statistical tests were two-sided. RESULTS: EDY was likely to occur in multiple nondiseased tissues (P < .001) and was statistically significantly associated with the EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor resistance pathway (false discovery rate = 0.028). EDY strongly associated with cancer risk in men (odds ratio [OR] = 3.66, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.58 to 8.46, P = .002), adjusted by LOY and age, and its variability was largely explained by several genes of the nonrecombinant region whose chromosome X homologs showed loss-of-function mutations that co-occurred with EDY during cancer (OR = 2.82, 95% CI = 1.32 to 6.01, P = .007). EDY associated with a high proportion of EGFR amplifications (OR = 5.64, 95% CI = 3.70 to 8.59, false discovery rate < 0.001) and EGFR overexpression along with SRY hypomethylation and nonrecombinant region hypermethylation, indicating alternative causes of EDY in cancer other than LOY. EDY associations were independently validated for different cancers and exposure to smoking, and its status was accurately predicted from individual methylation patterns. CONCLUSIONS: EDY is a male-specific signature of cancer susceptibility that supports the escape from X-inactivation tumor suppressor hypothesis for genes that protect women compared with men from cancer risk.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research