Using hamming distance as information for SNP-sets clustering and testing in disease association studies

Charlotte Wang, Wen Hsin Kao, Chuhsing Kate Hsiao, Zhi Wei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The availability of high-throughput genomic data has led to several challenges in recent genetic association studies, including the large number of genetic variants that must be considered and the computational complexity in statistical analyses. Tackling these problems with a marker-set study such as SNP-set analysis can be an efficient solution. To construct SNP-sets, we first propose a clustering algorithm, which employs Hamming distance to measure the similarity between strings of SNP genotypes and evaluates whether the given SNPs or SNP-sets should be clustered. A dendrogram can then be constructed based on such distance measure, and the number of clusters can be determined. With the resulting SNP-sets, we next develop an association test HDAT to examine susceptibility to the disease of interest. This proposed test assesses, based on Hamming distance, whether the similarity between a diseased and a normal individual differs from the similarity between two individuals of the same disease status. In our proposed methodology, only genotype information is needed. No inference of haplotypes is required, and SNPs under consideration do not need to locate in nearby regions. The proposed clustering algorithm and association test are illustrated with applications and simulation studies. As compared with other existing methods, the clustering algorithm is faster and better at identifying sets containing SNPs exerting a similar effect. In addition, the simulation studies demonstrated that the proposed test works well for SNP-sets containing a large proportion of neutral SNPs. Furthermore, employing the clustering algorithm before testing a large set of data improves the knowledge in confining the genetic regions for susceptible genetic markers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0134805
JournalPloS one
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 24 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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