Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) are used to discover genes underlying complex, heritable disorders for which less powerful study designs have failed in the past. The number of GWAS has skyrocketed recently with findings reported in top journals and the mainstream media. Mircorarrays are the genotype calling technology of choice in GWAS as they permit exploration of more than a million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)simultaneously. The starting point for the statistical analyses used by GWAS, to determine association between loci and disease, are genotype calls (AA, AB, or BB). However, the raw data, microarray probe intensities, are heavily processed before arriving at these calls. Various sophisticated statistical procedures have been proposed for transforming raw data into genotype calls. We find that variability in microarray output quality across different SNPs, different arrays, and different sample batches has substantial inuence on the accuracy of genotype calls made by existing algorithms. Failure to account for these sources of variability, GWAS run the risk of adversely affecting the quality of reported findings. In this paper we present solutions based on a multi-level mixed model. Software implementation of the method described in this paper is available as free and open source code in the crlmm R/BioConductor.



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