Improved use of SNP information to detect the role of genes

Genet Epidemiol. 2003 Sep;25(2):158-67. doi: 10.1002/gepi.10256.


A topical question in genetic association studies is the optimal use of the information provided by genotyped single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in order to detect the role of a candidate gene in a multifactorial disease. We propose a strategy called "combination test" that tests the association between a quantitative trait and all possible phased combinations of various numbers of SNPs. We compare this strategy to two alternative strategies: the association test that considers each SNP separately, and a multilocus genotype-based test that considers the phased combination of all SNPs together. To compare these three tests, a quantitative trait was simulated under different models of correspondence between phenotype and genotype, including the extreme case when two SNPs interact with no marginal effects of each SNP. The genotypes were taken from a sample of 290 independent individuals genotyped for three genes with various number of SNPs (from 5-8 SNPs). The results show that the "combination test" is the only one able to detect the association when the two SNPs involved in disease susceptibility interact with no marginal effects. Interestingly, even in the case of a single etiological SNP, the "combination test" performed well. We apply the three tests to Genetic Analysis Workshop 12 (Almasy et al. [2001] Genet. Epidemiol. 21:332-338) simulated data, and show that although there was no interactions between the etiological SNPs, the "combination test" was preferable to the two other compared methods to detect the role of the candidate gene.

MeSH terms

  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Models, Statistical
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics*
  • Quantitative Trait, Heritable