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Am J Hum Genet. Sep 1999; 65(3): 858–875.
PMCID: PMC1378001

Assessment of linkage disequilibrium by the decay of haplotype sharing, with application to fine-scale genetic mapping.


Linkage disequilibrium (LD) is of great interest for gene mapping and the study of population history. We propose a multilocus model for LD, based on the decay of haplotype sharing (DHS). The DHS model is most appropriate when the LD in which one is interested is due to the introduction of a variant on an ancestral haplotype, with recombinations in succeeding generations resulting in preservation of only a small region of the ancestral haplotype around the variant. This is generally the scenario of interest for gene mapping by LD. The DHS parameter is a measure of LD that can be interpreted as the expected genetic distance to which the ancestral haplotype is preserved, or, equivalently, 1/(time in generations to the ancestral haplotype). The method allows for multiple origins of alleles and for mutations, and it takes into account missing observations and ambiguities in haplotype determination, via a hidden Markov model. Whereas most commonly used measures of LD apply to pairs of loci, the DHS measure is designed for application to the densely mapped haplotype data that are increasingly available. The DHS method explicitly models the dependence among multiple tightly linked loci on a chromosome. When the assumptions about population structure are sufficiently tractable, the estimate of LD is obtained by maximum likelihood. For more-complicated models of population history, we find means and covariances based on the model and solve a quasi-score estimating equation. Simulations show that this approach works extremely well both for estimation of LD and for fine mapping. We apply the DHS method to published data sets for cystic fibrosis and progressive myoclonus epilepsy.

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Selected References

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