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Am J Hum Genet. 2000 May;66(5):1631-41. Epub 2000 Apr 5.

A unified sampling approach for multipoint analysis of qualitative and quantitative traits in sib pairs.

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  • 1Department of Biostatistics, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


Recent advances in molecular biology have enhanced the opportunity to conduct multipoint mapping for complex diseases. Concurrently, one sees a growing interest in the use of quantitative traits in linkage studies. Here, we present a multipoint sib-pair approach to locate the map position (tau) of a trait locus that controls the observed phenotype (qualitative or quantitative), along with a measure of statistical uncertainty. This method builds on a parametric representation for the expected identical-by-descent statistic at an arbitrary locus, conditional on an event reflecting the sampling scheme, such as affected sib pairs, for qualitative traits, or extreme discordant (ED) sib pairs, for quantitative traits. Our results suggest that the variance about tau&d4;, the estimator of tau, can be reduced by as much as 60%-70% by reducing the length of intervals between markers by one half. For quantitative traits, we examine the precision gain (measured by the variance reduction in tau&d4;) by genotyping extremely concordant (EC) sib pairs and including them along with ED sib pairs in the statistical analysis. The precision gain depends heavily on the residual correlation of the quantitative trait for sib pairs but considerably less on the allele frequency and exact genetic mechanism. Since complex traits involve multiple loci and, hence, the residual correlation cannot be ignored, our finding strongly suggests that one should incorporate EC sib pairs along with ED sib pairs, in both design and analysis. Finally, we empirically establish a simple linear relationship between the magnitude of precision gain and the ratio of the number of ED pairs to the number of EC pairs. This relationship allows investigators to address issues of cost effectiveness that are due to the need for phenotyping and genotyping subjects.

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