The Bayesian lasso for genome-wide association studies

Jiahan Li, Kiranmoy Das, Guifang Fu, Runze Li, Rongling Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

159 Scopus citations


Motivation: Despite their success in identifying genes that affect complex disease or traits, current genome-wide association studies (GWASs) based on a single SNP analysis are too simple to elucidate a comprehensive picture of the genetic architecture of phenotypes. A simultaneous analysis of a large number of SNPs, although statistically challenging, especially with a small number of samples, is crucial for genetic modeling. Method: We propose a two-stage procedure for multi-SNP modeling and analysis in GWASs, by first producing a 'preconditioned' response variable using a supervised principle component analysis and then formulating Bayesian lasso to select a subset of significant SNPs. The Bayesian lasso is implemented with a hierarchical model, in which scale mixtures of normal are used as prior distributions for the genetic effects and exponential priors are considered for their variances, and then solved by using the Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) algorithm. Our approach obviates the choice of the lasso parameter by imposing a diffuse hyperprior on it and estimating it along with other parameters and is particularly powerful for selecting the most relevant SNPs for GWASs, where the number of predictors exceeds the number of observations. Results: The new approach was examined through a simulation study. By using the approach to analyze a real dataset from the Framingham Heart Study, we detected several significant genes that are associated with body mass index (BMI). Our findings support the previous results about BMI-related SNPs and, meanwhile, gain new insights into the genetic control of this trait.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberbtq688
Pages (from-to)516-523
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Computational Mathematics


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