Genome wide association studies (GWAS) in 9,013 pancreatic cancer patients and 12,452 controls of European ancestry have discovered over 20 risk loci in the human genome. Here, we fine mapped one such locus on chromosome 16q23.1 in the vicinity of two Chymotrypsinogen precursor genes, CTRB1 and CTRB2. We fine-mapped this locus to rs72802365 (P=2.51x10-17, OR=1.36, 95% CI=1.31-1.40) and identified colocalization (PP=87%) with aberrant exon 5→7 CTRB2 splicing in pancreatic tissues. Imputation of a 584 bp insertion/deletion variant overlapping exon 6 of CTRB2 into the GWAS datasets resulted in a highly significant association with pancreatic cancer risk (P=2.83x10-16, OR=1.36, 95% CI=1.31-1.42), indicating that it may underlie this signal. Exon skipping attributable to the deletion (risk) allele introduces a premature stop codon in exon 7 of CTRB2, yielding a truncated chymotrypsin B2 protein that lacks chymotrypsin activity, is poorly secreted, and accumulates intracellularly in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). The intracellular accumulation of a nonfunctional chymotrypsinogen B2 protein may lead to ER stress and pancreatic inflammation, which in turn, may explain the increased pancreatic cancer risk in carriers of CTRB2 exon 6 deletion alleles.

Citation Format: Ashley Jermusyk, Jun Zhong, Naomi Gordon, Katelyn Connelly, Sumeth Perera, Ehssan Abdolalizadeh, Tongwu Zhang, Aidan O'Brien, Jason Hoskins, Irene Collins, Daina Eiser, Chen Yuan, Harvey Risch, Eric J. Jacobs, Donghui Li, Mengmeng Du, Rachael Stolzenberg-Solomon, Alison P. Klein, Jill P. Smith, Brian M. Wolpin, Stephen J. Chanock, Jianxin Shi, Gloria M. Petersen, Christopher Westlake, Laufey T. Amundadottir. An exception to the rule: A coding functional variant at a pancreatic cancer GWAS locus [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the AACR Virtual Special Conference on Pancreatic Cancer; 2020 Sep 29-30. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2020;80(22 Suppl):Abstract nr IA-11.