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Genet Epidemiol. 2010 Jul;34(5):492-501. doi: 10.1002/gepi.20502.

Resequencing of pooled DNA for detecting disease associations with rare variants.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York 10461, USA.


A combination of common and rare variants is thought to contribute to genetic susceptibility to complex diseases. Recently, next-generation sequencers have greatly lowered sequencing costs, providing an opportunity to identify rare disease variants in large genetic epidemiology studies. At present, it is still expensive and time consuming to resequence large number of individual genomes. However, given that next-generation sequencing technology can provide accurate estimates of allele frequencies from pooled DNA samples, it is possible to detect associations of rare variants using pooled DNA sequencing. Current statistical approaches to the analysis of associations with rare variants are not designed for use with pooled next-generation sequencing data. Hence, they may not be optimal in terms of both validity and power. Therefore, we propose here a new statistical procedure to analyze the output of pooled sequencing data. The test statistic can be computed rapidly, making it feasible to test the association of a large number of variants with disease. By simulation, we compare this approach to Fisher's exact test based either on pooled or individual genotypic data. Our results demonstrate that the proposed method provides good control of the Type I error rate, while yielding substantially higher power than Fisher's exact test using pooled genotypic data for testing rare variants, and has similar or higher power than that of Fisher's exact test using individual genotypic data. Our results also provide guidelines on how various parameters of the pooled sequencing design affect the efficiency of detecting associations.

(c) 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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