Recently, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified several susceptibility loci for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in populations of European descent; only a few loci could be confirmed in Asian populations because of those populations’ genetic heterogeneity. To identify genetic factors associated with childhood ALL risk in the Chinese population, we performed a three-stage GWAS of 1184 childhood ALL cases and 3219 non-ALL controls. The combined analysis identified a new locus (rs1121404 in WWOX) at 16q23.1 associated with childhood ALL susceptibility (odds ratio (OR) = 1.38, P = 5.29 × 10−10), especially in the subtype of B-ALL (OR = 1.39, P = 2.47 × 10−9). The functional studies subsequently revealed that the expression of WWOX in ALL bone marrow was significantly lower than that in normal bone marrow. The G allele of rs1121404 displayed significantly decreased levels of mRNA expression of WWOX. These results suggest that WWOX plays an important role in the development of childhood ALL and provide new insights into the etiology of childhood ALL.

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