Journal Article

Visualizing Chromosome Mosaicism and Detecting Ethnic Outliers by the Method of “Rare” Heterozygotes and Homozygotes (RHH)

Ralph E. McGinnis, Panos Deloukas, William M. McLaren and Michael Inouye

in Human Molecular Genetics

Volume 19, issue 13, pages 2539-2553
Published in print July 2010 | ISSN: 0964-6906
Published online March 2010 | e-ISSN: 1460-2083 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddq102

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We describe a novel approach for evaluating SNP genotypes of a genome-wide association scan to identify “ethnic outlier” subjects whose ethnicity is different or admixed compared to most other subjects in the genotyped sample set. Each ethnic outlier is detected by counting a genomic excess of “rare” heterozygotes and/or homozygotes whose frequencies are low (<1%) within genotypes of the sample set being evaluated. This method also enables simple and striking visualization of non-Caucasian chromosomal DNA segments interspersed within the chromosomes of ethnically admixed individuals. We show that this visualization of the mosaic structure of admixed human chromosomes gives results similar to another visualization method (SABER) but with much less computational time and burden. We also show that other methods for detecting ethnic outliers are enhanced by evaluating only genomic regions of visualized admixture rather than diluting outlier ancestry by evaluating the entire genome considered in aggregate. We have validated our method in the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium (WTCCC) study of 17,000 subjects as well as in HapMap subjects and simulated outliers of known ethnicity and admixture. The method's ability to precisely delineate chromosomal segments of non-Caucasian ethnicity has enabled us to demonstrate previously unreported non-Caucasian admixture in two HapMap Caucasian parents and in a number of WTCCC subjects. Its sensitive detection of ethnic outliers and simple visual discrimination of discrete chromosomal segments of different ethnicity implies that this method of rare heterozygotes and homozygotes (RHH) is likely to have diverse and important applications in humans and other species.

Journal Article.  10148 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Genetics and Genomics

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