Background: Copy number variations (CNVs) and polymorphisms (CNPs) have only recently gained the genetic community's attention. Conservative estimates have shown that CNVs and CNPs might affect more than 10% of the genome and that they may be at least as important as single nucleotide polymorphisms in assessing human variability. Widely used tools for CNP analysis have been implemented in Birdsuite and PLINK for the purpose of conducting genetic association studies based on the unpartitioned total number of CNP copies provided by the intensities from Affymetrix's Genome-Wide Human SNP Array. Here, we are interested in partitioning copy number variations and polymorphisms in extended pedigrees for the purpose of linkage analysis on familial data.
Results: We have developed CNGen, a new software for the partitioning of copy number polymorphism using the integrated genotypes from Birdsuite with the Affymetrix platform. The algorithm applied to familial trios or extended pedigrees can produce partitioned copy number genotypes with distinct parental alleles. We have validated the algorithm using simulations on a complex pedigree structure using frequencies calculated from a real dataset of 300 genotyped samples from 42 pedigrees segregating a congenital heart defect phenotype.
Conclusions: CNGen is the first published software for the partitioning of copy number genotypes in pedigrees, making possible the use CNPs and CNVs for linkage analysis. It was implemented with the Python interpreter version 2.5.2. It was successfully tested on current Linux, Windows and Mac OS workstations.