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

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Region-based and pathway-based QTL mapping using a p-value combination method

Hsin-Chou Yang* and Chia-Wei Chen

Author Affiliations

Institute of Statistical Science, Academia Sinica, Nankang 115, Taipei, Taiwan

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BMC Proceedings 2011, 5(Suppl 9):S43  doi:10.1186/1753-6561-5-S9-S43

Published: 29 November 2011


Quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping using deep DNA sequencing data is a challenging task. In this study we performed region-based and pathway-based QTL mappings using a p-value combination method to analyze the simulated quantitative traits Q1 and Q4 and the exome sequencing data. The aims were to evaluate the performance of the QTL mapping approaches that were used and to suggest plausible strategies for QTL mapping of DNA sequencing data. We conducted single-locus QTL mappings using a linear regression model with adjustments for age and smoking status, and we also conducted region-based and pathway-based QTL mappings using a truncated product method for combining p-values from the single-locus QTL mapping. To account for the features of rare variants and common single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), we considered independently rare-variant-only, common-SNP-only, and combined analyses. An analysis of 200 simulated replications showed that the three region-based methods reasonably controlled type I error, whereas the combined analysis yielded the greatest statistical power. Rare-variant-only, common-SNP-only, and combined analyses were also applied to pathway-based QTL mappings. We found that pathway-based QTL mappings had a power of approximately 100% when the significance of the vascular endothelial growth factor pathway was evaluated, but type I errors were slightly inflated. Our approach complements single-locus QTL mapping. An integrated approach using single-locus, combined region-based, and combined pathway-based analyses should yield promising results for QTL mapping of DNA sequencing data.