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Am J Hum Genet. 1997 Mar;60(3):703-16.

Detecting disease-predisposing variants: the haplotype method.

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Department of Integrative Biology, University of California at Berkeley, 94720-3140, USA.


For many HLA-associated diseases, multiple alleles-- and, in some cases, multiple loci--have been suggested as the causative agents. The haplotype method for identifying disease-predisposing amino acids in a genetic region is a stratification analysis. We show that, for each haplotype combination containing all the amino acid sites involved in the disease process, the relative frequencies of amino acid variants at sites not involved in disease but in linkage disequilibrium with the disease-predisposing sites are expected to be the same in patients and controls. The haplotype method is robust to mode of inheritance and penetrance of the disease and can be used to determine unequivocally whether all amino acid sites involved in the disease have not been identified. Using a resampling technique, we developed a statistical test that takes account of the nonindependence of the sites sampled. Further, when multiple sites in the genetic region are involved in disease, the test statistic gives a closer fit to the null expectation when some--compared with none--of the true predisposing factors are included in the haplotype analysis. Although the haplotype method cannot distinguish between very highly correlated sites in one population, ethnic comparisons may help identify the true predisposing factors. The haplotype method was applied to insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) HLA class II DQA1-DQB1 data from Caucasian, African, and Japanese populations. Our results indicate that the combination DQA1#52 (Arg predisposing) DQB1#57 (Asp protective), which has been proposed as an important IDDM agent, does not include all the predisposing elements. With rheumatoid arthritis HLA class II DRB1 data, the results were consistent with the shared-epitope hypothesis.

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