Indexed on: 13 Oct '06Published on: 13 Oct '06Published in: The American Journal of Human Genetics
Computations for genome scans need to adapt to the increasing use of dense diallelic markers as well as of full-chromosome multipoint linkage analysis with either diallelic or multiallelic markers. Whereas suitable exact-computation tools are available for use with small pedigrees, equivalent exact computation for larger pedigrees remains infeasible. Markov chain-Monte Carlo (MCMC)-based methods currently provide the only computationally practical option. To date, no systematic comparison of the performance of MCMC-based programs is available, nor have these programs been systematically evaluated for use with dense diallelic markers. Using simulated data, we evaluate the performance of two MCMC-based linkage-analysis programs--lm_markers from the MORGAN package and SimWalk2--under a variety of analysis conditions. Pedigrees consisted of 14, 52, or 98 individuals in 3, 5, or 6 generations, respectively, with increasing amounts of missing data in larger pedigrees. One hundred replicates of markers and trait data were simulated on a 100-cM chromosome, with up to 10 multiallelic and up to 200 diallelic markers used simultaneously for computation of multipoint LOD scores. Exact computation was available for comparison in most situations, and comparison with a perfectly informative marker or interprogram comparison was available in the remaining situations. Our results confirm the accuracy of both programs in multipoint analysis with multiallelic markers on pedigrees of varied sizes and missing-data patterns, but there are some computational differences. In contrast, for large numbers of dense diallelic markers, only the lm_markers program was able to provide accurate results within a computationally practical time. Thus, programs in the MORGAN package are the first available to provide a computationally practical option for accurate linkage analyses in genome scans with both large numbers of diallelic markers and large pedigrees.