Gender-specific associations between MICA-STR and nasopharyngeal carcinoma in a southern Chinese Han population

Wei Tian, Xiao Min Zeng, Li Xin Li, He Kun Jin, Qi Zhi Luo, Fan Wang, Shi Shi Guo, Ya Cao

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41 Scopus citations


Previous studies have identified several HLA-B specificities that are associated with nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) in populations of Chinese descent, in particular HLA-B35, -B38, -B46, and -B58. Perhaps except for HLA-B46, other associations cannot be simply accounted for by the linkage disequilibrium between HLA-A and B loci. The human major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I chain-related gene A (MICA) maps 46 kb centromeric to HLA-B and is highly polymorphic; it encodes a stress-inducible protein which functions as a ligand for the NKG2D/DAP10 complex to activate natural killer (NK) cells, γδ T cells, and CD8+ T cells. We postulated MICA gene as a susceptibility factor for nasopharyngeal carcinoma, an Epstein-Barr virus-associated malignancy. In this study, 218 unrelated patients newly diagnosed with NPC and 196 randomly selected healthy controls from southern China mainland were analyzed for the short tandem repeat polymorphism of exon 5 of MICA gene (MICA-STR) and MICA gene deletion, using fluorescent polymerase chain reaction-gene scanning (PCR/size-sequencing) and polymerase chain reaction-sequence-specific priming (PCR/SSP) technology. MICA*A9 was present at significantly increased frequency in the patient group (P C=0.0001002, OR=2.528, 95% CI=1.636-3.907), whereas the frequency of MICA*A5.1 was significantly decreased (PC=0-006, OR=0.594, 95% CI=0.437-0.806). Gender-based stratification revealed a significant increase of MICA*A9 frequency (PC=0.000072, OR=3.255, 95% CI=1.855-5.709) and a significant decrease of MICA* A5.1 frequency (PC=0. 000737, OR=0.486, 95% CI=0.337-0.702) in male patients with NPC (N=166), compared with male normal controls (N=120). A significant interaction between MICA*A9 and gender was observed (XW2 =41.58, P=0.0001). Statistics also revealed heterogeneity of effects among MICA*A5.1/ MICA*A9-bearing phenotypes and a dose-dependent effect of MICA*A5.1 and MICA*A9 on NPC risk in male subgroup. This constitutes the first demonstration of a gender-specific association between MICA-STR polymorphism and NPC, which could largely be attributable to the underlying gender-related mechanisms that modulate MICA gene expression. The results provide strong supporting evidence suggesting that MICA*A9 may be a genetic risk factor for NPC in male individuals in this population. The potential interaction between MICA and other non-HLA host factors and environmental exposures remains to be further studied.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-121
Number of pages9
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Gender
  • Human leukocyte antigen
  • MHC class-i chain-related gene A
  • Microsatellite DNA
  • Nasopharyngeal carcinoma


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