Modifier locus mapping of a transgenic F2 mouse population identifies CCDC115 as a novel aggressive prostate cancer modifier gene in humans

Jean M. Winter, Natasha L. Curry, Derek M. Gildea, Kendra A. Williams, Minnkyong Lee, Ying Hu, Nigel P.S. Crawford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: It is well known that development of prostate cancer (PC) can be attributed to somatic mutations of the genome, acquired within proto-oncogenes or tumor-suppressor genes. What is less well understood is how germline variation contributes to disease aggressiveness in PC patients. To map germline modifiers of aggressive neuroendocrine PC, we generated a genetically diverse F2 intercross population using the transgenic TRAMP mouse model and the wild-derived WSB/EiJ (WSB) strain. The relevance of germline modifiers of aggressive PC identified in these mice was extensively correlated in human PC datasets and functionally validated in cell lines.

Results: Aggressive PC traits were quantified in a population of 30 week old (TRAMP x WSB) F2 mice (n = 307). Correlation of germline genotype with aggressive disease phenotype revealed seven modifier loci that were significantly associated with aggressive disease. RNA-seq were analyzed using cis-eQTL and trait correlation analyses to identify candidate genes within each of these loci. Analysis of 92 (TRAMP x WSB) F2 prostates revealed 25 candidate genes that harbored both a significant cis-eQTL and mRNA expression correlations with an aggressive PC trait. We further delineated these candidate genes based on their clinical relevance, by interrogating human PC GWAS and PC tumor gene expression datasets. We identified four genes (CCDC115, DNAJC10, RNF149, and STYXL1), which encompassed all of the following characteristics: 1) one or more germline variants associated with aggressive PC traits; 2) differential mRNA levels associated with aggressive PC traits; and 3) differential mRNA expression between normal and tumor tissue. Functional validation studies of these four genes using the human LNCaP prostate adenocarcinoma cell line revealed ectopic overexpression of CCDC115 can significantly impede cell growth in vitro and tumor growth in vivo. Furthermore, CCDC115 human prostate tumor expression was associated with better survival outcomes.

Conclusion: We have demonstrated how modifier locus mapping in mouse models of PC, coupled with in silico analyses of human PC datasets, can reveal novel germline modifier genes of aggressive PC. We have also characterized CCDC115 as being associated with less aggressive PC in humans, placing it as a potential prognostic marker of aggressive PC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number450
Number of pages16
JournalBMC Genomics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • CCDC115
  • DNAJC10
  • Germline variation
  • LNCaP
  • Prostate cancer
  • Quantitative trait loci
  • RNF149
  • STYXL1
  • TRAMP mouse model


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