Studies have shown that genetic and environmental factors and their interactions affect several alcoholism phenotypes. Genotype x alcoholism (GxA) interaction refers to the environmental (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) influences on the autosomal genes contributing to variation in an alcoholism-related quantitative phenotype. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of GxA interaction on the detection of linkage for alcoholism-related phenotypes. We used phenotypic and genotypic data from the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism relating to 1,388 subjects as part of Genetic Analysis Workshop 14 problem 1. We analyzed the MXDRNK phenotype to detect GxA interaction using SOLAR. Upon detecting significant interaction, we conducted variance-component linkage analyses using microsatellite marker data. For maximum number of drinks per a 24 hour period, the highest LODs were observed on chromosomes 1, 4, and 13 without GxA interaction. Interaction analysis yielded four regions on chromosomes 1, 4, 13, and 15. On chromosome 4, a maximum LOD of 1.5 at the same location as the initial analysis was obtained after incorporating GxA interaction effects. However, after correcting for extra parameters, the LOD score was reduced to a corrected LOD of 1.1, which is similar to the LOD observed in the non-interaction analysis. Thus, we see little differences in LOD scores, while some linkage regions showed large differences in the magnitudes of estimated quantitative trait loci heritabilities between the alcoholic and non-alcoholic groups. These potential hints of differences in genetic effect may influence future analyses of variants under these linkage peaks.
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