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A genome-wide search strategy for identifying quantitative trait loci involved in reading and spelling disability (developmental dyslexia)

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Fisher, S. E., Stein, J. F., & Monaco, A. P. (1999). A genome-wide search strategy for identifying quantitative trait loci involved in reading and spelling disability (developmental dyslexia). European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 8(suppl. 3), S47-S51. doi:10.1007/PL00010694.

Family and twin studies of developmental dyslexia have consistently shown that there is a significant heritable component for this disorder. However, any genetic basis for the trait is likely to be complex, involving reduced penetrance, phenocopy, heterogeneity and oligogenic inheritance. This complexity results in reduced power for traditional parametric linkage analysis, where specification of the correct genetic model is important. One strategy is to focus on large multigenerational pedigrees with severe phenotypes and/or apparent simple Mendelian inheritance, as has been successfully demonstrated for speech and language impairment. This approach is limited by the scarcity of such families. An alternative which has recently become feasible due to the development of high-throughput genotyping techniques is the analysis of large numbers of sib-pairs using allele-sharing methodology. This paper outlines our strategy for conducting a systematic genome-wide search for genes involved in dyslexia in a large number of affected sib-pair familites from the UK. We use a series of psychometric tests to obtain different quantitative measures of reading deficit, which should correlate with different components of the dyslexia phenotype, such as phonological awareness and orthographic coding ability. This enable us to use QTL (quantitative trait locus) mapping as a powerful tool for localising genes which may contribute to reading and spelling disability.