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Linkage disequilibrium connects genetic records of relatives typed with disjoint genomic marker sets

By Jaehee Kim, Michael D. Edge, Bridget F. B. Algee-Hewitt, Jun Z. Li, Noah A. Rosenberg

Posted 12 Jun 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/345322

In familial searching in forensic genetics, a query DNA profile is tested against a database to determine whether it represents a relative of a database entrant. We examine the potential for using linkage disequilibrium to identify pairs of profiles as belonging to relatives when the query and database rely on nonoverlapping genetic markers. Considering data on individuals genotyped with both microsatellites used in forensic applications and genome-wide SNPs, we find that ~30-32% of parent-offspring pairs and ~35-36% of sib pairs can be identified from the SNPs of one member of the pair and the microsatellites of the other. The method suggests the possibility of performing familial searches of microsatellite databases using query SNP profiles, or vice versa. It also reveals that privacy concerns arising from computations across multiple databases that share no genetic markers in common entail risks not only for database entrants, but for their close relatives as well.

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