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Genetics. 2006 Nov;174(3):1597-611. Epub 2006 Oct 8.

Association mapping of complex trait loci with context-dependent effects and unknown context variable.

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Rolf Nevanlinna Institute, University of Helsinki, Finland.


A novel method for Bayesian analysis of genetic heterogeneity and multilocus association in random population samples is presented. The method is valid for quantitative and binary traits as well as for multiallelic markers. In the method, individuals are stochastically assigned into two etiological groups that can have both their own, and possibly different, subsets of trait-associated (disease-predisposing) loci or alleles. The method is favorable especially in situations when etiological models are stratified by the factors that are unknown or went unmeasured, that is, if genetic heterogeneity is due to, for example, unknown genes x environment or genes x gene interactions. Additionally, a heterogeneity structure for the phenotype does not need to follow the structure of the general population; it can have a distinct selection history. The performance of the method is illustrated with simulated example of genes x environment interaction (quantitative trait with loosely linked markers) and compared to the results of single-group analysis in the presence of missing data. Additionally, example analyses with previously analyzed cystic fibrosis and type 2 diabetes data sets (binary traits with closely linked markers) are presented. The implementation (written in WinBUGS) is freely available for research purposes from approximately mjs/.

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