DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Cysteine is the rate-limiting amino acid in biosynthesis of glutathione (GSH)-the key intracellular antioxidant and detoxifying agent. Limited data have suggested that high circulating levels of cysteine may prevent the development of breast cancer. Cysteinylglycine, a product of the extracellular GSH catabolism by y-glutamyltranspeptidase (GGT1), is involved in the generation of reactive oxygen species. However, no study has assessed the relation of Cysteinylglycine levels to breast cancer risk. Although genetic differences in GSH biosynthesis from cysteine and GSH catabolism could influence breast cancer risk and may modify the effect of cysteine and Cysteinylglycine on risk of breast cancer, no published data are available. We thus propose to conduct a prospective study of plasma cysteine, Cysteinylglycine, gene variants involved in GSH biosynthesis from cysteine and GSH catabolism, and their interactive effects on risk of breast cancer in two large prospective cohorts, the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) and Nurses' Health Study II (NHSII). Applying state-of-the-art genotyping technology and statistical methods, we will evaluate common functional variants and determine the structure of haplotypes in four relevant candidate genes, including glutamate-cysteine ligase (as known as y-glutamylcysteine synthetase, a rate-limiting enzyme catalyzing the first step of GSH biosynthesis from cysteine with two subunits [GCLC, catalytic subunit; GCLM, regulatory subunitj), glutathione synthetase (GSS, an enzyme catalyzing the second step of GSH biosynthesis) and GGT1 (an enzyme involved in the GSH catabolism to generate Cysteinylglycine and in the transport of cysteine into the cell). Associations with these candidate genes would provide mechanistic evidence for the association between plasma cysteine and Cysteinylglycine and breast cancer risk. A total of 2279 incident breast cancer cases and their matched controls will be identified in the NHS and NHSII cohorts among women with achieved blood samples and free of cancer at baseline. The NHS and NHSII cohorts have a large number of confirmed cases of breast cancer, long duration, high follow-up rates, and comprehensive covariate information, thus providing an extraordinary opportunity to examine the main effects of cysteine-related gene variants, plasma cysteine and Cysteinylglycine, and their interactions in relation to breast cancer risk. We will explore interactions among these candidate genes as well. Findings from this proposed study will help elucidate the role of cysteine in breast carcinogenesis, and may suggest future approaches for breast cancer chemoprevention, as /V-acetylcysteine and cysteine dietary supplements can readily improve cysteine status.
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