Modeling associations between genetic markers using Bayesian networks

Edwin Villanueva, Carlos Dias Maciel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Motivation: Understanding the patterns of association between polymorphisms at different loci in a population (linkage disequilibrium, LD) is of fundamental importance in various genetic studies. Many coefficients were proposed for measuring the degree of LD, but they provide only a static view of the current LD structure. Generative models (GMs) were proposed to go beyond these measures, giving not only a description of the actual LD structure but also a tool to help understanding the process that generated such structure. GMs based in coalescent theory have been the most appealing because they link LD to evolutionary factors. Nevertheless, the inference and parameter estimation of such models is still computationally challenging. Results: We present a more practical method to build GM that describe LD. The method is based on learning weighted Bayesian network structures from haplotype data, extracting equivalence structure classes and using them to model LD. The results obtained in public data from the HapMap database showed that the method is a promising tool for modeling LD. The associations represented by the learned models are correlated with the traditional measure of LD D′. The method was able to represent LD blocks found by standard tools. The granularity of the association blocks and the readability of the models can be controlled in the method. The results suggest that the causality information gained by our method can be useful to tell about the conservability of the genetic markers and to guide the selection of subset of representative markers.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberbtq392
Pages (from-to)i632-i637
Issue number18
StatePublished - 4 Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes


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