Retrospective Binary-Trait Association Test Elucidates Genetic Architecture of Crohn Disease

American Journal of Human Genetics
Duo JiangMary Sara McPeek


In genetic association testing, failure to properly control for population structure can lead to severely inflated type 1 error and power loss. Meanwhile, adjustment for relevant covariates is often desirable and sometimes necessary to protect against spurious association and to improve power. Many recent methods to account for population structure and covariates are based on linear mixed models (LMMs), which are primarily designed for quantitative traits. For binary traits, however, LMM is a misspecified model and can lead to deteriorated performance. We propose CARAT, a binary-trait association testing approach based on a mixed-effects quasi-likelihood framework, which exploits the dichotomous nature of the trait and achieves computational efficiency through estimating equations. We show in simulation studies that CARAT consistently outperforms existing methods and maintains high power in a wide range of population structure settings and trait models. Furthermore, CARAT is based on a retrospective approach, which is robust to misspecification of the phenotype model. We apply our approach to a genome-wide analysis of Crohn disease, in which we replicate association with 17 previously identified regions. Moreover, our analysis ...Continue Reading


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