A Kernel Regression Approach to Gene-Gene Interaction Detection for Case-Control Studies

Authors

  • Nicholas B. Larson,

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Biomedical Statistics and Informatics, Department of Health Sciences Research, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
    • Correspondence to: Nicholas B. Larson, Division of Biomedical Statistics and Informatics, Department of Health Sciences Research, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905. E-mail: Larson.nicholas@mayo.edu

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  • Daniel J. Schaid

    1. Division of Biomedical Statistics and Informatics, Department of Health Sciences Research, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
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ABSTRACT

Gene-gene interactions are increasingly being addressed as a potentially important contributor to the variability of complex traits. Consequently, attentions have moved beyond single locus analysis of association to more complex genetic models. Although several single-marker approaches toward interaction analysis have been developed, such methods suffer from very high testing dimensionality and do not take advantage of existing information, notably the definition of genes as functional units. Here, we propose a comprehensive family of gene-level score tests for identifying genetic elements of disease risk, in particular pairwise gene-gene interactions. Using kernel machine methods, we devise score-based variance component tests under a generalized linear mixed model framework. We conducted simulations based upon coalescent genetic models to evaluate the performance of our approach under a variety of disease models. These simulations indicate that our methods are generally higher powered than alternative gene-level approaches and at worst competitive with exhaustive SNP-level (where SNP is single-nucleotide polymorphism) analyses. Furthermore, we observe that simulated epistatic effects resulted in significant marginal testing results for the involved genes regardless of whether or not true main effects were present. We detail the benefits of our methods and discuss potential genome-wide analysis strategies for gene-gene interaction analysis in a case-control study design.

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