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Genetics. 2007 Feb;175(2):763-76. Epub 2006 Dec 6.

Simulations provide support for the common disease-common variant hypothesis.

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Department of Statistics, Rice University, Houston, Texas 77005, USA.


The success of mapping genes involved in complex diseases, using association or linkage disequilibrium methods, depends heavily on the number and frequency of susceptibility alleles of these genes. These methods will be economically and statistically feasible if common diseases are usually influenced by one or a few susceptibility alleles at each locus (common disease-common variant, CDCV, hypothesis), but not so if there is a high degree of allelic heterogeneity. Here, we use forward-time population simulations to investigate the impact of various genetic and demographic factors on the allelic spectra of human diseases, on the basis of two models proposed by Reich and Lander and by Pritchard. Factors considered are more complex demographies, a finite-allele mutation model, population structure and migration, and interaction between disease susceptibility loci. The conclusion is that the CDCV hypothesis holds and that the phenomenon is caused by transient effects of demography (population expansion). As a result, we devise a multilocus generalization of the Reich and Lander model and demonstrate how interaction between loci with respect to their response to selection may lead to complex effects. We discuss the implications for mapping of complex diseases.

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