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Function2Gene: A gene selection tool to increase the power of genetic association studies by utilizing public databases and expert knowledge

Don L Armstrong1, Chaim O Jacob2 and Raphael Zidovetzki1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA

2 Department of Medicine, University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA 90033, USA

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BMC Bioinformatics 2008, 9:311  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-9-311

Published: 17 July 2008

Abstract

Background

Many common disorders have multiple genetic components which convey increased susceptibility. SNPs have been used to identify genetic components which are associated with a disease. Unfortunately, many studies using these methods suffer from low reproducibility due to lack of power.

Results

We present a set of programs which implement a novel method for searching for disease-associated genes using prior information to select and order genes from publicly available databases by their prior likelihood of association with the disease. These programs were used in a published study of childhood-onset SLE which yielded novel associations with modest sample size.

Conclusion

Using prior information to decrease the size of the problem space to an amount commensurate with available samples and resources while maintaining appropriate power enables researchers to increase their likelihood of discovering reproducible associations.