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Genet Epidemiol. 2006 Feb;30(2):143-54.

Using endophenotypes for pathway clusters to map complex disease genes.

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Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Academia Sinica, No. 128 Section 2 Academia Road, Taipei, Taiwan 11529.


Nature determines the complexity of disease etiology and the likelihood of revealing disease genes. While culprit genes for many monogenic diseases have been successfully unraveled, efforts to map major complex disease genes have not been as productive as hoped. The conceptual framework currently adopted to deal with the heterogeneous nature of complex diseases focuses on using homogeneous internal features of the disease phenotype for mapping. However, phenotypic homogeneity does not equal genotypic homogeneity. In this report, we advocate working with well-measured phenotypes portrayed by amounts of transcripts and activities of gene products or their metabolites, which are pertinent to relatively small pathway clusters. Reliable and controlled measures for oligogenic traits resulting from proper dissection efforts may enhance statistical power. The large amounts of information obtained on gene and protein expression from technological advances can add to the power of gene finding, particularly for diseases with unclear etiology. Data-mining tools for dimension reduction can assist biologists to reveal novel molecular endophenotypes. However, there are still hurdles to overcome, including high cost, relatively poor reproducibility and comparability among platforms, the cross-sectional nature of the information, and the accessibility of human tissues. Concerted efforts are required to carry out large-scale prospective studies that are integrated at the levels of phenotype characterization, high throughput experimental techniques, data analyses, and beyond.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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