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Nucleic Acids Res. 2012 Jul;40(Web Server issue):W628-32. doi: 10.1093/nar/gks550. Epub 2012 Jun 11.

BiForce Toolbox: powerful high-throughput computational analysis of gene-gene interactions in genome-wide association studies.

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Finnish Microarray and Sequencing Centre, Turku Centre for Biotechnology, University of Turku, Turku, Finland.


Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have discovered many loci associated with common disease and quantitative traits. However, most GWAS have not studied the gene-gene interactions (epistasis) that could be important in complex trait genetics. A major challenge in analysing epistasis in GWAS is the enormous computational demands of analysing billions of SNP combinations. Several methods have been developed recently to address this, some using computers equipped with particular graphical processing units, most restricted to binary disease traits and all poorly suited to general usage on the most widely used operating systems. We have developed the BiForce Toolbox to address the demand for high-throughput analysis of pairwise epistasis in GWAS of quantitative and disease traits across all commonly used computer systems. BiForce Toolbox is a stand-alone Java program that integrates bitwise computing with multithreaded parallelization and thus allows rapid full pairwise genome scans via a graphical user interface or the command line. Furthermore, BiForce Toolbox incorporates additional tests of interactions involving SNPs with significant marginal effects, potentially increasing the power of detection of epistasis. BiForce Toolbox is easy to use and has been applied in multiple studies of epistasis in large GWAS data sets, identifying interesting interaction signals and pathways.

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