Inter- and intrafamilial heterogeneity: Effective sampling strategies and comparison of analysis methods

Martina Durner, David A. Greenberg, Susan E. Hodge

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Heterogeneity, both inter- and intrafamilial, represents a serious problem in linkage studies of common complex diseases. In this study we simulated different scenarios with families who phenotypically have identical diseases but who genotypically have two different forms of the disease (both forms genetic). We examined the proportion of families displaying intrafamilial heterogeneity, as a function of mode of inheritance, gene frequency, penetrance, and sampling strategies. Furthermore, we compared two different ways of analyzing linkage in these data sets: a two-locus (2L) analysis versus a one-locus (SL) analysis combined with an admixture test. Data were simulated with tight linkage between one disease locus and a marker locus; the other disease locus was not linked to a marker. Our findings are as follows: (1) In contrast to what has been proposed elsewhere to minimize heterogeneity, sampling only "high-density" pedigrees will increase the proportion of families with intrafamilial heterogeneity, especially when the two forms are relatively close in frequency. (2) When one form is dominant and one is recessive, this sampling strategy will greatly decrease the proportions of families with a recessive form and may therefore make it more difficult to detect linkage to the recessive form. (3) An SL analysis combined with an admixture test achieves about the same lod scores and estimate of the recombination fraction as does a 2L analysis. Also, a 2L analysis of a sample of families with intrafamilial heterogeneity does not perform significantly better than an SL analysis. (4) Bilineal pedigrees have little effect on the mean maximum lod score and mean maximum recombination fraction, and therefore there is little danger that including these families will lead to a false exclusion of linkage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)859-870
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Genetics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1992


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