Bayesian bi-level variable selection for genome-wide survival study

Genomics Inform. 2023 Sep;21(3):e28. doi: 10.5808/gi.23047. Epub 2023 Jun 28.


Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a clinical syndrome characterized by the onset and evolution of cognitive impairments, often considered a transitional stage to Alzheimer's disease (AD). The genetic traits of MCI patients who experience a rapid progression to AD can enhance early diagnosis capabilities and facilitate drug discovery for AD. While a genome-wide association study (GWAS) is a standard tool for identifying single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) related to a disease, it fails to detect SNPs with small effect sizes due to stringent control for multiple testing. Additionally, the method does not consider the group structures of SNPs, such as genes or linkage disequilibrium blocks, which can provide valuable insights into the genetic architecture. To address the limitations, we propose a Bayesian bi-level variable selection method that detects SNPs associated with time of conversion from MCI to AD. Our approach integrates group inclusion indicators into an accelerated failure time model to identify important SNP groups. Additionally, we employ data augmentation techniques to impute censored time values using a predictive posterior. We adapt Dirichlet-Laplace shrinkage priors to incorporate the group structure for SNP-level variable selection. In the simulation study, our method outperformed other competing methods regarding variable selection. The analysis of Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) data revealed several genes directly or indirectly related to AD, whereas a classical GWAS did not identify any significant SNPs.

Keywords: Bayesian variable selection; genome-wide association studies; group structure; linkage disequilibrium; survival analysis.