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Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have discovered 20 risk loci in the human genome where germline variants associate with risk of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) in populations of European ancestry. Here, we fine-mapped one such locus on chr16q23.1 (rs72802365, p = 2.51 × 10−17, OR = 1.36, 95% CI = 1.31–1.40) and identified colocalization (PP = 0.87) with aberrant exon 5–7 CTRB2 splicing in pancreatic tissues (pGTEx = 1.40 × 10−69, βGTEx = 1.99; pLTG = 1.02 × 10−30, βLTG = 1.99). Imputation of a 584 bp structural variant overlapping exon 6 of CTRB2 into the GWAS datasets resulted in a highly significant association with pancreatic cancer risk (p = 2.83 × 10−16, 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 chymotrypsinogen B2 protein that lacks chymotrypsin activity, is poorly secreted, and accumulates intracellularly in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). We propose that intracellular accumulation of a nonfunctional chymotrypsinogen B2 protein leads to ER stress and pancreatic inflammation, which may explain the increased pancreatic cancer risk in carriers of CTRB2 exon 6 deletion alleles.

Original publication




Journal article


American Journal of Human Genetics

Publication Date





1852 - 1865