A phased SNP-based classification of sickle cell anemia HBB haplotypes
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BACKGROUND: Sickle cell anemia causes severe complications and premature death. Five common β-globin gene cluster haplotypes are each associated with characteristic fetal hemoglobin (HbF) levels. As HbF is the major modulator of disease severity, classifying patients according to haplotype is useful. The first method of haplotype classification used restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs) to detect single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the β-globin gene cluster. This is labor intensive, and error prone. METHODS: We used genome-wide SNP data imputed to the 1000 Genomes reference panel to obtain phased data distinguishing parental alleles. RESULTS: We successfully haplotyped 813 sickle cell anemia patients previously classified by RFLPs with a concordance >98%. Four SNPs (rs3834466, rs28440105, rs10128556, and rs968857) marking four different restriction enzyme sites unequivocally defined most haplotypes. We were able to assign a haplotype to 86% of samples that were either partially or misclassified using RFLPs. CONCLUSION: Phased data using only four SNPs allowed unequivocal assignment of a haplotype that was not always possible using a larger number of RFLPs. Given the availability of genome-wide SNP data, our method is rapid and does not require high computational resources.
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