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Fam Cancer. 2018 Apr;17(2):295-302. doi: 10.1007/s10689-017-0017-7.

A comparison of cosegregation analysis methods for the clinical setting.

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Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, 98105, USA.
Department of Bioengineering, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, 98105, USA.
Department of Medicine, Division of Medical Genetics, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, 98105, USA.
Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, 98105, USA.


Quantitative cosegregation analysis can help evaluate the pathogenicity of genetic variants. However, genetics professionals without statistical training often use simple methods, reporting only qualitative findings. We evaluate the potential utility of quantitative cosegregation in the clinical setting by comparing three methods. One thousand pedigrees each were simulated for benign and pathogenic variants in BRCA1 and MLH1 using United States historical demographic data to produce pedigrees similar to those seen in the clinic. These pedigrees were analyzed using two robust methods, full likelihood Bayes factors (FLB) and cosegregation likelihood ratios (CSLR), and a simpler method, counting meioses. Both FLB and CSLR outperform counting meioses when dealing with pathogenic variants, though counting meioses is not far behind. For benign variants, FLB and CSLR greatly outperform as counting meioses is unable to generate evidence for benign variants. Comparing FLB and CSLR, we find that the two methods perform similarly, indicating that quantitative results from either of these methods could be combined in multifactorial calculations. Combining quantitative information will be important as isolated use of cosegregation in single families will yield classification for less than 1% of variants. To encourage wider use of robust cosegregation analysis, we present a website ( ) which implements the CSLR, FLB, and Counting Meioses methods for ATM, BRCA1, BRCA2, CHEK2, MEN1, MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, and PMS2. We also present an R package, CoSeg, which performs the CSLR analysis on any gene with user supplied parameters. Future variant classification guidelines should allow nuanced inclusion of cosegregation evidence against pathogenicity.


Bayes factor; Counting meioses; Likelihood ratio; Linkage analysis; Variants of uncertain significance

[Available on 2019-04-01]
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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