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A generalized estimating equations approach to quantitative trait locus detection of non-normal traits

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Abstract

To date, most statistical developments in QTL detection methodology have been directed at continuous traits with an underlying normal distribution. This paper presents a method for QTL analysis of non-normal traits using a generalized linear mixed model approach. Development of this method has been motivated by a backcross experiment involving two inbred lines of mice that was conducted in order to locate a QTL for litter size. A Poisson regression form is used to model litter size, with allowances made for under- as well as over-dispersion, as suggested by the experimental data. In addition to fixed parity effects, random animal effects have also been included in the model. However, the method is not fully parametric as the model is specified only in terms of means, variances and covariances, and not as a full probability model. Consequently, a generalized estimating equations (GEE) approach is used to fit the model. For statistical inferences, permutation tests and bootstrap procedures are used. This method is illustrated with simulated as well as experimental mouse data. Overall, the method is found to be quite reliable, and with modification, can be used for QTL detection for a range of other non-normally distributed traits.

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Correspondence to Peter C. Thomson.

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This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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Thomson, P.C. A generalized estimating equations approach to quantitative trait locus detection of non-normal traits. Genet Sel Evol 35, 257 (2003) doi:10.1186/1297-9686-35-3-257

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Keywords

  • QTL
  • non-normal traits
  • generalized estimation equation
  • litter size
  • mice