A Statistical Framework for Quantitative Trait Mapping
Śaunak Sen, Gary A. Churchill

Abstract

We describe a general statistical framework for the genetic analysis of quantitative trait data in inbred line crosses. Our main result is based on the observation that, by conditioning on the unobserved QTL genotypes, the problem can be split into two statistically independent and manageable parts. The first part involves only the relationship between the QTL and the phenotype. The second part involves only the location of the QTL in the genome. We developed a simple Monte Carlo algorithm to implement Bayesian QTL analysis. This algorithm simulates multiple versions of complete genotype information on a genomewide grid of locations using information in the marker genotype data. Weights are assigned to the simulated genotypes to capture information in the phenotype data. The weighted complete genotypes are used to approximate quantities needed for statistical inference of QTL locations and effect sizes. One advantage of this approach is that only the weights are recomputed as the analyst considers different candidate models. This device allows the analyst to focus on modeling and model comparisons. The proposed framework can accommodate multiple interacting QTL, nonnormal and multivariate phenotypes, covariates, missing genotype data, and genotyping errors in any type of inbred line cross. A software tool implementing this procedure is available. We demonstrate our approach to QTL analysis using data from a mouse backcross population that is segregating multiple interacting QTL associated with salt-induced hypertension.

  • Received July 29, 2000.
  • Accepted June 4, 2001.
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