Finding disease genes: a fast and flexible approach for analyzing high-throughput data

Stewart, William C. L.; Drill, Esther N.; Greenberg, David A.
October 2011
European Journal of Human Genetics;Oct2011, Vol. 19 Issue 10, p1090
Academic Journal
Linkage disequilibrium (LD) is the non-random distribution of alleles across the genome, and it can create serious problems for modern linkage studies. In particular, computational feasibility is often obtained at the expense of power, precision, and/or accuracy. In our new approach, we combine linkage results over multiple marker subsets to provide fast, efficient, and robust analyses, without compromising power, precision, or accuracy. Allele frequencies and LD in the densely spaced markers are used to construct subsamples that are highly informative for linkage. We have tested our approach extensively, and implemented it in the software package EAGLET (Efficient Analysis of Genetic Linkage: Estimation and Testing). Relative to several commonly used methods we show that EAGLET has increased power to detect disease genes across a range of trait models, LD patterns, and family structures using both simulated and real data. In particular, when the underlying LD pattern is derived from real data, we find that EAGLET outperforms several commonly used linkage methods. In-depth analysis of family data, simulated with linkage and under the real-data derived LD pattern, showed that EAGLET had 78.1% power to detect a dominant disease with incomplete penetrance, whereas the method that uses one marker per cM had 69.7% power, and the cluster-based approach implemented in MERLIN had 76.7% power. In this same setting, EAGLET was three times faster than MERLIN, and it narrowed the MERLIN-based confidence interval for trait location by 29%. Overall, EAGLET gives researchers a fast, accurate, and powerful new tool for analyzing high-throughput linkage data, and large extended families are easily accommodated.


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