Gail Gong, Wei Wang, Chih-Lin Hsieh, David J. Van Den Berg, Christopher Haiman, Ingrid Oakley-Girvan, Alice S. Whittemore
April 8, 2019
Article number: 20180030
Genome-wide sequencing enables evaluation of associations between traits and combinations of variants in genes and pathways. But such evaluation requires multi-locus association tests with good power, regardless of the variant and trait characteristics. And since analyzing families may yield more power than analyzing unrelated individuals, we need multi-locus tests applicable to both related and unrelated individuals. Here we describe such tests, and we introduce SKAT-X, a new test statistic that uses genome-wide data obtained from related or unrelated subjects to optimize power for the specific data at hand. Simulations show that: a) SKAT-X performs well regardless of variant and trait characteristics; and b) for binary traits, analyzing affected relatives brings more power than analyzing unrelated individuals, consistent with previous findings for single-locus tests. We illustrate the methods by application to rare unclassified missense variants in the tumor suppressor gene BRCA2 , as applied to combined data from prostate cancer families and unrelated prostate cancer cases and controls in the Multi-ethnic Cohort (MEC). The methods can be implemented using open-source code for public use as the R-package GATARS (Genetic Association Tests for Arbitrarily Related Subjects) <https://gailg.github.io/gatars/>.