For pedigrees with multiple loops, exact likelihoods could not be computed in an acceptable time frame and thus, approximate methods are used. Some of these methods are based on breaking loops and approximations of complex pedigree likelihoods using the exact likelihood of the corresponding zero-loop pedigree. Due to ignoring loops, this method results in a loss of genetic information and a decrease in the power to detect linkage. To minimize this loss, an optimal set of loop breakers has to be selected. In this paper, we present a graph theory based algorithm for automatic selection of an optimal set of loop breakers. We propose using a total relationship between measured pedigree members as a proxy to power. To minimize the loss of genetic information, we suggest selection of such breakers whose duplication in a pedigree would be accompanied by a minimal loss of total relationship between measured pedigree members. We show that our algorithm compares favorably with other existing loop-breaker selection algorithms in terms of conservation of genetic information, statistical power and CPU time of subsequent linkage analysis. We implemented our method in a software package LOOP_EDGE, which is available at Copyright

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Human Heredity
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Axenovich, T., Zorkoltseva, I., Liu, F., Kirichenko, A., & Aulchenko, Y. (2007). Breaking loops in large complex pedigrees. Human Heredity, 65(2), 57–65. doi:10.1159/000108937