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Am J Hum Genet. Mar 1993; 52(3): 506–516.
PMCID: PMC1682161

Transmission test for linkage disequilibrium: the insulin gene region and insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM).


A population association has consistently been observed between insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) and the "class 1" alleles of the region of tandem-repeat DNA (5' flanking polymorphism [5'FP]) adjacent to the insulin gene on chromosome 11p. This finding suggests that the insulin gene region contains a gene or genes contributing to IDDM susceptibility. However, several studies that have sought to show linkage with IDDM by testing for cosegregation in affected sib pairs have failed to find evidence for linkage. As means for identifying genes for complex diseases, both the association and the affected-sib-pairs approaches have limitations. It is well known that population association between a disease and a genetic marker can arise as an artifact of population structure, even in the absence of linkage. On the other hand, linkage studies with modest numbers of affected sib pairs may fail to detect linkage, especially if there is linkage heterogeneity. We consider an alternative method to test for linkage with a genetic marker when population association has been found. Using data from families with at least one affected child, we evaluate the transmission of the associated marker allele from a heterozygous parent to an affected offspring. This approach has been used by several investigators, but the statistical properties of the method as a test for linkage have not been investigated. In the present paper we describe the statistical basis for this "transmission test for linkage disequilibrium" (transmission/disequilibrium test [TDT]). We then show the relationship of this test to tests of cosegregation that are based on the proportion of haplotypes or genes identical by descent in affected sibs. The TDT provides strong evidence for linkage between the 5'FP and susceptibility to IDDM. The conclusions from this analysis apply in general to the study of disease associations, where genetic markers are usually closely linked to candidate genes. When a disease is found to be associated with such a marker, the TDT may detect linkage even when haplotype-sharing tests do not.

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Selected References

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