Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have successfully identified genetic variants associated with risk for breast cancer. However, the molecular mechanisms through which the identified variants confer risk or influence phenotypic expression remains poorly understood. Here, we present a novel integrative genomics approach that combines GWAS information with gene expression data to assess the combined contribution of multiple genetic variants acting within genes and putative biological pathways, and to identify novel genes and biological pathways that could not be identified using traditional GWAS. The results show that genes containing SNPs associated with risk for breast cancer are functionally related and interact with each other in biological pathways relevant to breast cancer. Additionally, we identified novel genes that are co-expressed and interact with genes containing SNPs associated with breast cancer. Integrative analysis combining GWAS information with gene expression data provides functional bridges between GWAS findings and biological pathways involved in breast cancer.
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