Single nucleotide polymorphisms in the MYLKP1 pseudogene are associated with increased colon cancer risk in African Americans

Heather Lynn, Xiaoguang Sun, Djanybek Ayshiev, Jessica H. Siegler, Alicia N. Rizzo, Jason H. Karnes, Manuel Gonzales Garay, Ting Wang, Nancy Casanova, Sara M. Camp, Nathan A. Ellis, Joe G.N. Garcia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Introduction Pseudogenes are paralogues of functional genes historically viewed as defunct due to either the lack of regulatory elements or the presence of frameshift mutations. Recent evidence, however, suggests that pseudogenes may regulate gene expression, although the functional role of pseudogenes remains largely unknown. We previously reported that MYLKP1, the pseudogene of MYLK that encodes myosin light chain kinase (MLCK), is highly expressed in lung and colon cancer cell lines and tissues but not in normal lung or colon. The MYLKP1 promoter is minimally active in normal bronchial epithelial cells but highly active in lung adenocarcinoma cells. In this study, we further validate MYLKP1 as an oncogene via elucidation of the functional role of MYLKP1 genetic variants in colon cancer risk. Methods Proliferation and migration assays were performed in MYLKP1-transfected colon and lung cancer cell lines (H441, A549) and commercially-available normal lung and colon cells. Fourteen MYLKP1 SNPs (MAFs >0.01) residing within the 4 kb MYLKP1 promoter region, the core 1.4 kb of MYLKP1 gene, and a 4 kb enhancer region were selected and genotyped in a colorectal cancer cohort. MYLKP1 SNP influences on activity of MYLKP1 promoter (2kb) was assessed by dual luciferase reporter assay. Results Cancer cell lines, H441 and A549, exhibited increased MYLKP1 expression, increased MYLKP1 luciferase promoter activity, increased proliferation and migration. Genotyping studies identified two MYLKP1 SNPs (rs12490683; rs12497343) that significantly increase risk of colon cancer in African Americans compared to African American controls. Rs12490683 and rs12497343 further increase MYLKP1 promoter activity compared to the wild type MYLKP1 promoter. Conclusion MYLKP1 is a cancer-promoting pseudogene whose genetic variants differentially enhance cancer risk in African American populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0200916
JournalPloS one
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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