Quantitative trait locus linkage analysis in a large Amish pedigree identifies novel candidate loci for erythrocyte traits

Mol Genet Genomic Med. 2013 Sep 1;1(3):131-141. doi: 10.1002/mgg3.16.


We characterized a large Amish pedigree and, in 384 pedigree members, analyzed the genetic variance components with covariate screen as well as genome-wide quantitative trait locus (QTL) linkage analysis of red blood cell count (RBC), hemoglobin (HB), hematocrit (HCT), mean corpuscular volume (MCV), mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH), mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC), red cell distribution width (RDW), platelet count (PLT), and white blood cell count (WBC) using SOLAR. Age and gender were found to be significant covariates in many CBC traits. We obtained significant heritability estimates for RBC, MCV, MCH, MCHC, RDW, PLT, and WBC. We report four candidate loci with LOD scores above 2.0: 6q25 (MCH), 9q33 (WBC), 10p12 (RDW), and 20q13 (MCV). We also report eleven candidate loci with LOD scores between 1.5 and < 2.0. Bivariate linkage analysis of MCV and MCH on chromosome 20 resulted in a higher maximum LOD score of 3.14. Linkage signals on chromosomes 4q28, 6p22, 6q25, and 20q13 are concomitant with previously reported QTL. All other linkage signals reported herein represent novel evidence of candidate QTL. Interestingly rs1800562, the most common causal variant of hereditary hemochromatosis in HFE (6p22) was associated with MCH and MCHC in this family. Linkage studies like the one presented here will allow investigators to focus the search for rare variants amidst the noise encountered in the large amounts of data generated by whole genome sequencing.