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Fine-mapping of breast cancer GWAS regions has identified 195 high confidence signals containing more than 5,000 credible causal variants (CCVs). The CCVs are predominantly noncoding and enriched in regulatory elements and thus may confer the risk by altering gene expression in cis. We analyzed allelic expression imbalance (AEI) of genes surrounding known breast cancer signals, using normal breast and breast tumor transcriptome data and imputed genotypes. Fourteen genes, including NTN4, were identified whose expression was associated with CCV genotype. We showed that CCVs at this signal were located within an enhancer that physically interacts with the NTN4 promoter. Furthermore, knockdown of NTN4 in breast cells increased cell proliferation in vitro and tumor growth in vivo. Here, we present the most comprehensive AEI analysis of breast cancer CCVs resulting in identification of new candidate risk genes.

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