We have previously described the role of red hair (melanocortin-1 receptor, MC1R) and blue eye (oculocutaneous albinism type II, OCA2) gene polymorphisms in modulating the risk of cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM) in a highly sun-exposed population of European descent. A number of recent studies, including genome-wide association studies, have identified numerous polymorphisms controlling human hair, eye, and skin color. In this paper, we test a selected set of polymorphisms in pigmentation loci (ASIP (Agouti signalling protein, nonagouti homolog (mouse) gene), TYR (tyrosinase), TYRP1 (tyrosinase-related protein 1), MC1R, OCA2, IRF4 (interferon regulatory factor 4), SLC24A4 (solute carrier family 24, member 4), and SLC45A2 (solute carrier family 45, member 2)) for association with CMM risk in a large Australian population-based case-control study. Variants in IRF4 and SLC24A4, despite being strongly associated with pigmentation in our sample, did not modify CMM risk, but the other six did. Three single nucleotide polymorphisms (rs28777, rs35391, and rs16891982) in the MATP gene (SLC45A2) exhibited the strongest crude association with risk, but this was attenuated to approximately the same effect size as that of a MC1R red hair color allele by controlling for ancestry of cases and controls. We also detected significant epistatic interactions between SLC45A2 and OCA2 alleles, and MC1R and ASIP alleles. Overall, these measured variants account for 12% of the familial risk of CMM in our population.
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