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The etiology of pancreatic cancer remains largely unknown. Here, we report the results of a meta-analysis of three genome-wide association studies (GWASs) comprising 2,039 pancreatic cancer cases and 32,592 controls, the largest sample size in the Japanese population. We identified 3 (13q12.2, 13q22.1, and 16p12.3) genome-wide significant loci (P<5.0×10-8) and 4 suggestive loci (P<1.0×10-6) for pancreatic cancer. Of these risk loci, 16p12.3 is novel; the lead SNP maps to rs78193826 (odds ratio (OR)=1.46, 95% CI=1.29-1.66, P=4.28×10-9), an Asian-specific, nonsynonymous glycoprotein 2 (GP2) gene variant predicted to be highly deleterious. Additionally, the gene-based GWAS identified a novel gene, KRT8, which is linked to exocrine pancreatic and liver diseases. The identified GP2 gene variants were pleiotropic for multiple traits, including type 2 diabetes, hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels, and pancreatic cancer. Mendelian randomization analyses corroborated causality between HbA1c and pancreatic cancer. These findings suggest that GP2 gene variants are associated with pancreatic cancer susceptibility in the Japanese population, prompting further functional characterization of this locus.

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