DNA pooling is an efficient method to rapidly perform genome-wide linkage scans in autosomal recessive diseases in inbred populations where affected individuals are likely to be homozygous for alleles near the disease gene locus. We wanted to examine whether this approach would detect linkage in autosomal dominant (AD) disorders where affected individuals may share one allele identical by descent at loci tightly linked to the disease. Two large outbred pedigrees in which the AD diseases familial venous malformation (FVM) and hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT1), linked to 9p and 9q, respectively, were investigated. Separate pools of DNA from affected (n = 21 for FVM and 17 for HHT1) and unaffected family members (n = 9 FVM and HHT1), and 25 unrelated population controls were established. Polymorphic markers spanning chromosome 9 at approximately 13.5-cM intervals were amplified using standard PCR. Allele quantitation was performed with a fluorimager. Visual inspection of allele intensities and frequency distributions suggested a shift in frequency of the most common allele in the affecteds lane when compared to control lanes for markers within 30 cM of the FVM and HHT1 loci. These subjective assessments were confirmed statistically by testing for the difference between two proportions (one-sided; P ≤ 0.05). When using population controls, the true-positive rates for FVM and HHT1 were 5/5 and 2/5 markers, respectively. False-positive rates for FVM and HHT1 were 3/9 and 2/9, respectively. In both AD diseases investigated, quantitative DNA pooling detected shifts in allele frequency, thus identifying areas of known linkage in most cases. The utility of this technique depends on the size of the pedigree, frequency of the disease-associated allele in the population, and the choice of appropriate controls. Although the false-positive rate appears to be high, this approach still serves to reduce the amount of overall genotyping by about 60%. DNA pooling merits further investigation as a potential strategy in increasing the efficiency of genomic linkage scans.
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