Identity-by-descent filtering as a tool for the identification of disease alleles in exome sequence data from distant relatives

Nirmala Akula, Sevilla Detera-Wadleigh, Yin Yao Shugart, Michael Nalls, Jo Steele, Francis J. McMahon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Large-scale, deep resequencing may be the next logical step in the genetic investigation of common complex diseases. Because each individual is likely to carry many thousands of variants, the identification of causal alleles requires an efficient strategy to reduce the number of candidate variants. Under many genetic models, causal alleles can be expected to reside within identity-by-descent (IBD) regions shared by affected relatives. In distant relatives, IBD regions constitute a small portion of the genome and can thus greatly reduce the search space for causal alleles. However, the effectiveness of this strategy is unknown. We test the simulated mini-exome data set in extended pedigrees provided by Genetic Analysis Workshop 17. At the fourth- and fifth-degree level of relatedness, case-case pairs shared between 1% and 9% of the genome identical by descent. As expected, no genes were shared identical by descent by all case subjects, but 43 genes were shared by many case subjects across at least 50 replicates. We filtered variants in these genes based on population frequency, function, informativeness, and evidence of association using the family-based association test. This analysis highlighted five genes previously implicated in triglyceride, lipid, and cholesterol metabolism. Comparison with the list of true risk alleles revealed that strict IBD filtering followed by association testing of the rarest alleles was the most sensitive strategy. IBD filtering may be a useful strategy for narrowing down the list of candidate variants in exome data, but the optimal degree of relatedness of affected pairs will depend on the genetic architecture of the disease under study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberS76
JournalBMC Proceedings
Issue numberSUPPL. 9
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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