Human Genetics

, Volume 120, Issue 1, pp 58–68

Efficient selection of tagging single-nucleotide polymorphisms in multiple populations


  • Bryan N. Howie
    • Department of Genome SciencesUniversity of Washington
  • Christopher S. Carlson
    • Department of Genome SciencesUniversity of Washington
  • Mark J. Rieder
    • Department of Genome SciencesUniversity of Washington
    • Department of Genome SciencesUniversity of Washington
Original Investigation

DOI: 10.1007/s00439-006-0182-5

Cite this article as:
Howie, B.N., Carlson, C.S., Rieder, M.J. et al. Hum Genet (2006) 120: 58. doi:10.1007/s00439-006-0182-5


Common genetic polymorphism may explain a portion of the heritable risk for common diseases, so considerable effort has been devoted to finding and typing common single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the human genome. Many SNPs show correlated genotypes, or linkage disequilibrium (LD), suggesting that only a subset of all SNPs (known as tagging SNPs, or tagSNPs) need to be genotyped for disease association studies. Based on the genetic differences that exist among human populations, most tagSNP sets are defined in a single population and applied only in populations that are closely related. To improve the efficiency of multi-population analyses, we have developed an algorithm called MultiPop-TagSelect that finds a near-minimal union of population-specific tagSNP sets across an arbitrary number of populations. We present this approach as an extension of LD-select, a tagSNP selection method that uses a greedy algorithm to group SNPs into bins based on their pairwise association patterns, although the MultiPop-TagSelect algorithm could be used with any SNP tagging approach that allows choices between nearly equivalent SNPs. We evaluate the algorithm by considering tagSNP selection in candidate-gene resequencing data and lower density whole-chromosome data. Our analysis reveals that an exhaustive search is often intractable, while the developed algorithm can quickly and reliably find near-optimal solutions even for difficult tagSNP selection problems. Using populations of African, Asian, and European ancestry, we also show that an optimal multi-population set of tagSNPs can be substantially smaller (up to 44%) than a typical set obtained through independent or sequential selection.

Supplementary material

439_2006_182_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (675 kb)
Supplementary material

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006