Open Access Research article

Comparison of genotyping using pooled DNA samples (allelotyping) and individual genotyping using the affymetrix genome-wide human SNP array 6.0

Alexander Teumer1*, Florian D Ernst1, Anja Wiechert1, Katharina Uhr12, Matthias Nauck3, Astrid Petersmann3, Henry Völzke4, Uwe Völker1 and Georg Homuth1

Author Affiliations

1 Interfaculty Institute for Genetics and Functional Genomics, University Medicine Greifswald, 17487 Greifswald, Germany

2 Department of Medical Oncology, Erasmus MC, 3008AE, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

3 Institute of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, University Medicine Greifswald, 17475 Greifswald, Germany

4 Institute for Community Medicine, University Medicine Greifswald, 17475 Greifswald, Germany

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BMC Genomics 2013, 14:506  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-506

Published: 26 July 2013

Abstract

Background

Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) using array-based genotyping technology are widely used to identify genetic loci associated with complex diseases or other phenotypes. The costs of GWAS projects based on individual genotyping are still comparatively high and increase with the size of study populations. Genotyping using pooled DNA samples, as also being referred as to allelotyping approach, offers an alternative at affordable costs. In the present study, data from 100 DNA samples individually genotyped with the Affymetrix Genome-Wide Human SNP Array 6.0 were used to estimate the error of the pooling approach by comparing the results with those obtained using the same array type but DNA pools each composed of 50 of the same samples. Newly developed and established methods for signal intensity correction were applied. Furthermore, the relative allele intensity signals (RAS) obtained by allelotyping were compared to the corresponding values derived from individual genotyping. Similarly, differences in RAS values between pools were determined and compared.

Results

Regardless of the intensity correction method applied, the pooling-specific error of the pool intensity values was larger for single pools than for the comparison of the intensity values of two pools, which reflects the scenario of a case–control study. Using 50 pooled samples and analyzing 10,000 SNPs with a minor allele frequency of >1% and applying the best correction method for the corresponding type of comparison, the 90% quantile (median) of the pooling-specific absolute error of the RAS values for single sub-pools and the SNP-specific difference in allele frequency comparing two pools was 0.064 (0.026) and 0.056 (0.021), respectively.

Conclusions

Correction of the RAS values reduced the error of the RAS values when analyzing single pool intensities. We developed a new correction method with high accuracy but low computational costs. Correction of RAS, however, only marginally reduced the error of true differences between two sample groups and those obtained by allelotyping. Exclusion of SNPs with a minor allele frequency of ≤1% notably reduced the pooling-specific error. Our findings allow for improving the estimation of the pooling-specific error and may help in designing allelotyping studies using the Affymetrix Genome-Wide Human SNP Array 6.0.