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A central focus of complex disease genetics after genome-wide association studies (GWAS) is to identify low frequency and rare risk variants, which may account for an important fraction of disease heritability unexplained by GWAS. A profusion of studies using next-generation sequencing are seeking such risk alleles. We describe how already-known complex trait loci (largely from GWAS) can be used to guide the design of these new studies by selecting cases, controls, or families who are most likely to harbor undiscovered risk alleles. We show that genetic risk prediction can select unrelated cases from large cohorts who are enriched for unknown risk factors, or multiply-affected families that are more likely to harbor high-penetrance risk alleles. We derive the frequency of an undiscovered risk allele in selected cases and controls, and show how this relates to the variance explained by the risk score, the disease prevalence and the population frequency of the risk allele. We also describe a new method for informing the design of sequencing studies using genetic risk prediction in large partially-genotyped families using an extension of the Inside-Outside algorithm for inference on trees. We explore several study design scenarios using both simulated and real data, and show that in many cases genetic risk prediction can provide significant increases in power to detect low-frequency and rare risk alleles. The same approach can also be used to aid discovery of non-genetic risk factors, suggesting possible future utility of genetic risk prediction in conventional epidemiology. Software implementing the methods in this paper is available in the R package Mangrove.

Original publication

DOI

10.1371/journal.pone.0076328

Type

Journal article

Journal

PLoS One

Publication Date

2013

Volume

8

Keywords

Algorithms, Alleles, Gene Frequency, Genetic Predisposition to Disease, Genome-Wide Association Study, Genotype, High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing, Humans, Models, Genetic, Penetrance, Phenotype, Quantitative Trait Loci, Risk