Background: We propose a 2-step model-based approach, with correction for ascertainment, to linkage analysis of a binary trait with variable age of onset and apply it to a set of multiplex pedigrees segregating for adult glioma. Methods: First, we fit segregation models by formulating the likelihood for a person to have a bivariate phenotype, affection status and age of onset, along with other covariates, and from these we estimate population trait allele frequencies and penetrance parameters as a function of age (N = 281 multiplex glioma pedigrees). Second, the best fitting models are used as trait models in multipoint linkage analysis (N = 74 informative multiplex glioma pedigrees). To correct for ascertainment, a prevalence constraint is used in the likelihood of the segregation models for all 281 pedigrees. Then the trait allele frequencies are reestimated for the pedigree founders of the subset of 74 pedigrees chosen for linkage analysis. Results: Using the best-fitting segregation models in model-based multipoint linkage analysis, we identified 2 separate peaks on chromosome 17; the first agreed with a region identified by Shete and colleagues who used model-free affected-only linkage analysis, but with a narrowed peak: and the second agreed with a second region they found but had a larger maximum log of the odds (LOD). Conclusions: Our approach was able to narrow the linkage peak previously published for glioma. Impact: We provide a practical solution to model-based linkage analysis for disease affection status with variable age of onset for the kinds of pedigree data often collected for linkage analysis.
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