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This article is part of the supplement: Genetic Analysis Workshop 17: Unraveling Human Exome Data

Open Access Proceedings

Pathway analysis for family data using nested random-effects models

Jeanine J Houwing-Duistermaat*, Hae-Won Uh and Roula Tsonaka

Author Affiliations

Department of Medical Statistics and Bioinformatics, Leiden University Medical Center, PO Box 9600, 2300 RC, Leiden, The Netherlands

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BMC Proceedings 2011, 5(Suppl 9):S22  doi:10.1186/1753-6561-5-S9-S22

Published: 29 November 2011


Recently we proposed a novel two-step approach to test for pathway effects in disease progression. The goal of this approach is to study the joint effect of multiple single-nucleotide polymorphisms that belong to certain genes. By using random effects, our approach acknowledges the correlations within and between genes when testing for pathway effects. Gene-gene and gene-environment interactions can be included in the model. The method can be implemented with standard software, and the distribution of the test statistics under the null hypothesis can be approximated by using standard chi-square distributions. Hence no extensive permutations are needed for computations of the p-value. In this paper we adapt and apply the method to family data, and we study its performance for sequence data from Genetic Analysis Workshop 17. For the set of unrelated subjects, the performance of the new test was disappointing. We found a power of 6% for the binary outcome and of 18% for the quantitative trait Q1. For family data the new approach appears to perform well, especially for the quantitative outcome. We found a power of 39% for the binary outcome and a power of 89% for the quantitative trait Q1.