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1.  Data for Genetic Analysis Workshop 18: human whole genome sequence, blood pressure, and simulated phenotypes in extended pedigrees 
BMC Proceedings  2014;8(Suppl 1):S2.
Genetic Analysis Workshop 18 (GAW18) focused on identification of genes and functional variants that influence complex phenotypes in human sequence data. Data for the workshop were donated by the T2D-GENES Consortium and included whole genome sequences for odd-numbered autosomes in 464 key individuals selected from 20 Mexican American families, a dense set of single-nucleotide polymorphisms in 959 individuals in these families, and longitudinal data on systolic and diastolic blood pressure measured at 1-4 examinations over a period of 20 years. Simulated phenotypes were generated based on the real sequence data and pedigree structures. In the design of the simulation model, gene expression measures from the San Antonio Family Heart Study (not distributed as part of the GAW18 data) were used to identify genes whose mRNA levels were correlated with blood pressure. Observed variants within these genes were designated as functional in the GAW18 simulation if they were nonsynonymous and predicted to have deleterious effects on protein function or if they were noncoding and associated with mRNA levels. Two simulated longitudinal phenotypes were modeled to have the same trait distributions as the real systolic and diastolic blood pressure data, with effects of age, sex, and medication use, including a genotype-medication interaction. For each phenotype, more than 1000 sequence variants in more than 200 genes present on the odd-numbered autosomes individually explained less than 0.01-2.78% of phenotypic variance. Cumulatively, variants in the most influential gene explained 7.79% of trait variance. An additional simulated phenotype, Q1, was designed to be correlated among family members but to not be associated with any sequence variants. Two hundred replicates of the phenotypes were simulated, with each including data for 849 individuals.
doi:10.1186/1753-6561-8-S1-S2
PMCID: PMC4145406  PMID: 25519314
2.  Evaluation of estimated genetic values and their application to genome-wide investigation of systolic blood pressure 
BMC Proceedings  2014;8(Suppl 1):S66.
The concept of breeding values, an individual's phenotypic deviation from the population mean as a result of the sum of the average effects of the genes they carry, is of great importance in livestock, aquaculture, and cash crop industries where emphasis is placed on an individual's potential to pass desirable phenotypes on to the next generation. As breeding or genetic values (as referred to here) cannot be measured directly, estimated genetic values (EGVs) are based on an individual's own phenotype, phenotype information from relatives, and, increasingly, genetic data. Because EGVs represent additive genetic variation, calculating EGVs in an extended human pedigree is expected to provide a more refined phenotype for genetic analyses. To test the utility of EGVs in genome-wide association, EGVs were calculated for 847 members of 20 extended Mexican American families based on 100 replicates of simulated systolic blood pressure. Calculations were performed in GAUSS to solve a variation on the standard Best Linear Unbiased Predictor (BLUP) mixed model equation with age, sex, and the first 3 principal components of sample-wide genetic variability as fixed effects and the EGV as a random effect distributed around the relationship matrix. Three methods of calculating kinship were considered: expected kinship from pedigree relationships, empirical kinship from common variants, and empirical kinship from both rare and common variants. Genome-wide association analysis was conducted on simulated phenotypes and EGVs using the additive measured genotype approach in the SOLAR software package. The EGV-based approach showed only minimal improvement in power to detect causative loci.
doi:10.1186/1753-6561-8-S1-S66
PMCID: PMC4143678  PMID: 25519398
3.  Genetic Analysis Workshop 17 mini-exome simulation 
BMC Proceedings  2011;5(Suppl 9):S2.
The data set simulated for Genetic Analysis Workshop 17 was designed to mimic a subset of data that might be produced in a full exome screen for a complex disorder and related risk factors in order to permit workshop participants to investigate issues of study design and statistical genetic analysis. Real sequence data from the 1000 Genomes Project formed the basis for simulating a common disease trait with a prevalence of 30% and three related quantitative risk factors in a sample of 697 unrelated individuals and a second sample of 697 individuals in large, extended pedigrees. Called genotypes for 24,487 autosomal markers assigned to 3,205 genes and simulated affection status, quantitative traits, age, sex, pedigree relationships, and cigarette smoking were provided to workshop participants. The simulating model included both common and rare variants with minor allele frequencies ranging from 0.07% to 25.8% and a wide range of effect sizes for these variants. Genotype-smoking interaction effects were included for variants in one gene. Functional variants were concentrated in genes selected from specific biological pathways and were selected on the basis of the predicted deleteriousness of the coding change. For each sample, unrelated individuals and family, 200 replicates of the phenotypes were simulated.
doi:10.1186/1753-6561-5-S9-S2
PMCID: PMC3287854  PMID: 22373155
4.  Genetic signal maximization using environmental regression 
BMC Proceedings  2011;5(Suppl 9):S72.
Joint analyses of correlated phenotypes in genetic epidemiology studies are common. However, these analyses primarily focus on genetic correlation between traits and do not take into account environmental correlation. We describe a method that optimizes the genetic signal by accounting for stochastic environmental noise through joint analysis of a discrete trait and a correlated quantitative marker. We conducted bivariate analyses where heritability and the environmental correlation between the discrete and quantitative traits were calculated using Genetic Analysis Workshop 17 (GAW17) family data. The resulting inverse value of the environmental correlation between these traits was then used to determine a new β coefficient for each quantitative trait and was constrained in a univariate model. We conducted genetic association tests on 7,087 nonsynonymous SNPs in three GAW17 family replicates for Affected status with the β coefficient fixed for three quantitative phenotypes and compared these to an association model where the β coefficient was allowed to vary. Bivariate environmental correlations were 0.64 (± 0.09) for Q1, 0.798 (± 0.076) for Q2, and −0.169 (± 0.18) for Q4. Heritability of Affected status improved in each univariate model where a constrained β coefficient was used to account for stochastic environmental effects. No genome-wide significant associations were identified for either method but we demonstrated that constraining β for covariates slightly improved the genetic signal for Affected status. This environmental regression approach allows for increased heritability when the β coefficient for a highly correlated quantitative covariate is constrained and increases the genetic signal for the discrete trait.
doi:10.1186/1753-6561-5-S9-S72
PMCID: PMC3287912  PMID: 22373104
5.  Do rare variant genotypes predict common variant genotypes? 
BMC Proceedings  2011;5(Suppl 9):S87.
The synthetic association hypothesis proposes that common genetic variants detectable in genome-wide association studies may reflect the net phenotypic effect of multiple rare polymorphisms distributed broadly within the focal gene rather than, as often assumed, the effect of common functional variants in high linkage disequilibrium with the focal marker. In a recent study, Dickson and colleagues demonstrated synthetic association in simulations and in two well-characterized, highly polymorphic human disease genes. The converse of this hypothesis is that rare variant genotypes must be correlated with common variant genotypes often enough to make the phenomenon of synthetic association possible. Here we used the exome genotype data provided for Genetic Analysis Workshop 17 to ask how often, how well, and under what conditions rare variant genotypes predict the genotypes of common variants within the same gene. We found nominal evidence of correlation between rare and common variants in 21-30% of cases examined for unrelated individuals; this rate increased to 38-44% for related individuals, underscoring the segregation that underlies synthetic association.
doi:10.1186/1753-6561-5-S9-S87
PMCID: PMC3287928  PMID: 22373504
6.  Toward the identification of causal genes in complex diseases: a gene-centric joint test of significance combining genomic and transcriptomic data 
BMC Proceedings  2009;3(Suppl 7):S92.
Background
Gene identification using linkage, association, or genome-wide expression is often underpowered. We propose that formal combination of information from multiple gene-identification approaches may lead to the identification of novel loci that are missed when only one form of information is available.
Methods
Firstly, we analyze the Genetic Analysis Workshop 16 Framingham Heart Study Problem 2 genome-wide association data for HDL-cholesterol using a "gene-centric" approach. Then we formally combine the association test results with genome-wide transcriptional profiling data for high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), from the San Antonio Family Heart Study, using a Z-transform test (Stouffer's method).
Results
We identified 39 genes by the joint test at a conservative 1% false-discovery rate, including 9 from the significant gene-based association test and 23 whose expression was significantly correlated with HDL-C. Seven genes identified as significant in the joint test were not independently identified by either the association or expression tests.
Conclusion
This combined approach has increased power and leads to the direct nomination of novel candidate genes likely to be involved in the determination of HDL-C levels. Such information can then be used as justification for a more exhaustive search for functional sequence variation within the nominated genes. We anticipate that this type of analysis will improve our speed of identification of regulatory genes causally involved in disease risk.
PMCID: PMC2795996  PMID: 20018089
7.  Genome-wide discovery of maternal effect variants 
BMC Proceedings  2009;3(Suppl 7):S19.
Many phenotypes may be influenced by the prenatal environment of the mother and/or maternal care, and these maternal effects may have a heritable component. We have implemented in the computer program SOLAR a variance components-based method for detecting indirect effects of maternal genotype on offspring phenotype. Of six phenotypes measured in three generations of the Framingham Heart Study, height showed the strongest evidence (P = 0.02) of maternal effect. We conducted a genome-wide association analysis for height, testing both the direct effect of the focal individual's genotype and the indirect effect of the maternal genotype. Offspring height showed suggestive evidence of association with maternal genotype for two single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the trafficking protein particle complex 9 gene TRAPPC9 (NIBP), which plays a role in neuronal NF-κB signalling. This work establishes a methodological framework for identifying genetic variants that may influence the contribution of the maternal environment to offspring phenotypes.
PMCID: PMC2795915  PMID: 20018008
8.  Data for Genetic Analysis Workshop (GAW) 15 Problem 2, genetic causes of rheumatoid arthritis and associated traits 
BMC Proceedings  2007;1(Suppl 1):S3.
For Genetic Analysis Workshop 15 Problem 2, we organized data from several ongoing studies designed to identify genetic and environmental risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis. Data were derived from the North American Rheumatoid Arthritis Consortium (NARAC), collaboration among Canadian researchers, the European Consortium on Rheumatoid Arthritis Families (ECRAF), and investigators from Manchester, England. All groups used a common standard for defining rheumatoid arthritis, but NARAC also further selected for a more severe phenotype in the probands. Genotyping and family structures for microsatellite-based linkage analysis were provided from all centers. In addition, all centers but ECRAF have genotyped families for linkage analysis using SNPs and these data were additionally provided. NARAC also had additional data from a dense genotyping analysis of a region of chromosome 18 and results from candidate gene studies, which were provided. Finally, smoking influences risk for rheumatoid arthritis, and data were provided from the NARAC study on this behavior as well as some additional phenotypes measuring severity. Several questions could be evaluated using the data that were provided. These include comparing linkage analysis using single-nucleotide polymorphisms versus microsatellites and identifying credible regions of linkage outside the HLA region on chromosome 6p13, which has been extensively documented; evaluating the joint effects of smoking with genetic factors; and identifying more homogenous subsets of families for whom genetic susceptibility might be stronger, so that linkage and association studies may be more efficiently conducted.
PMCID: PMC2367518  PMID: 18466527
9.  Comparison of strategies for identification of regulatory quantitative trait loci of transcript expression traits 
BMC Proceedings  2007;1(Suppl 1):S85.
In order to identify regulatory genes, we determined the heritability of gene transcripts, performed linkage analysis to identify quantitative trait loci (QTLs), and evaluated the evidence for shared genetic effects among transcripts with co-localized QTLs in non-diseased participants from 14 CEPH (Centre d'Etude du Polymorphisme Humain) Utah families. Seventy-six percent of transcripts had a significant heritability and 54% of them had LOD score ≥ 1.8. Bivariate genetic analysis of 15 transcripts that had co-localized QTLs on 4q28.2-q31.1 identified significant genetic correlation among some transcripts although no improvement in the magnitude of LOD scores in this region was noted. Similar results were found in analysis of 12 transcripts, that had co-localized QTLs in the 13q34 region. Principal-component analyses did not improve the ability to identify chromosomal regions of co-localized gene expressions.
PMCID: PMC2367462  PMID: 18466588

Results 1-9 (9)