Epistasis Blog

From the Computational Genetics Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania (www.epistasis.org)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Model-Based Multifactor Dimensionality Reduction to detect epistasis for quantitative traits in the presence of error-free and noisy data

A new model-based MDR paper.

Mahachie John JM, Van Lishout F, Van Steen K. Model-Based Multifactor Dimensionality Reduction to detect epistasis for quantitative traits in the presence of error-free and noisy data. Eur J Hum Genet. 2011, in press [PubMed]

Abstract

Detecting gene-gene interactions or epistasis in studies of human complex diseases is a big challenge in the area of epidemiology. To address this problem, several methods have been developed, mainly in the context of data dimensionality reduction. One of these methods, Model-Based Multifactor Dimensionality Reduction, has so far mainly been applied to case-control studies. In this study, we evaluate the power of Model-Based Multifactor Dimensionality Reduction for quantitative traits to detect gene-gene interactions (epistasis) in the presence of error-free and noisy data. Considered sources of error are genotyping errors, missing genotypes, phenotypic mixtures and genetic heterogeneity. Our simulation study encompasses a variety of settings with varying minor allele frequencies and genetic variance for different epistasis models. On each simulated data, we have performed Model-Based Multifactor Dimensionality Reduction in two ways: with and without adjustment for main effects of (known) functional SNPs. In line with binary trait counterparts, our simulations show that the power is lowest in the presence of phenotypic mixtures or genetic heterogeneity compared to scenarios with missing genotypes or genotyping errors. In addition, empirical power estimates reduce even further with main effects corrections, but at the same time, false-positive percentages are reduced as well. In conclusion, phenotypic mixtures and genetic heterogeneity remain challenging for epistasis detection, and careful thought must be given to the way important lower-order effects are accounted for in the analysis.

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