Testing for Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium at biallelic genetic markers on the X chromosome

Heredity (Edinb). 2016 Jun;116(6):558-68. doi: 10.1038/hdy.2016.20. Epub 2016 Apr 13.


Testing genetic markers for Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium (HWE) is an important tool for detecting genotyping errors in large-scale genotyping studies. For markers at the X chromosome, typically the χ(2) or exact test is applied to the females only, and the hemizygous males are considered to be uninformative. In this paper we show that the males are relevant, because a difference in allele frequency between males and females may indicate HWE not to hold. The testing of markers on the X chromosome has received little attention, and in this paper we lay down the foundation for testing biallelic X-chromosomal markers for HWE. We develop four frequentist statistical test procedures for X-linked markers that take both males and females into account: the χ(2) test, likelihood ratio test, exact test and permutation test. Exact tests that include males are shown to have a better Type I error rate. Empirical data from the GENEVA project on venous thromboembolism is used to illustrate the proposed tests. Results obtained with the new tests differ substantially from tests that are based on female genotype counts only. The new tests detect differences in allele frequencies and seem able to uncover additional genotyping error that would have gone unnoticed in HWE tests based on females only.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chromosomes, Human, X / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency*
  • Genetic Markers*
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Genotype
  • Genotyping Techniques*
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Male
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Venous Thrombosis / genetics


  • Genetic Markers