MC1R Variation in a New Mexico Population

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Background: The Melanocortin 1 Receptor (MC1R) contributes to pigmentation, an important risk factor for developing melanoma. Evaluating SNPs in MC1R and association with race/ethnicity, skin type, and perceived cancer risk in a New Mexico (NM) population will elucidate the role of MC1R in a multicultural population.

Methods: We genotyped MC1R in 191 NMs attending a primary care clinic in Albuquerque. We obtained individuals' self-identified race/ethnicity, skin type, and perceived cancer risk. We defined genetic risk as carriage of any one or more of the nine most common SNPs in MC1R.

Results: We found that one MC1R SNP, R163Q (rs885479), was identified in 47.6% of self-identified Hispanics and 12.9% of non-Hispanic whites (NHW), making Hispanics at higher “genetic risk” (as defined by carrying one of the MC1R common variants). When we deleted R163Q from analyses, Hispanics were no longer at higher genetic risk (33.3%) compared with NHW (48.3%), consistent with melanoma rates, tanning ability, and lower perceived risk. Hispanics had a perceived risk significantly lower than NHW and a nonsignificant better tanning ability than NHW.

Conclusions: The R163Q variant in MC1R may not be a risk factor for melanoma among NM Hispanics. This suggestion points to the need to carefully interpret genetic risk factors among specific populations.

Impact: Genetic risk cannot be extrapolated from Northern European populations directly to non-European populations.


Supplementary data for this article are available at Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention Online (http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/).

This study was supported by a research grant from the NCI at the NIH, which is a part of the U.S. government (grant nos. 1R01CA181241-01A1 to J.L. Hay and M. Berwick and P01 CA 206980-01A1 to M. Berwick)