Research paper| Volume 25, P39-44, November 2016

Genetic mapping of 15 human X chromosomal forensic short tandem repeat (STR) loci by means of multi-core parallelization


      • Improved recombination rate estimates for X STRs.
      • Multi-core parallelization of a likelihood-based estimation approach.
      • Corroboration of previous studies rejecting a simple linkage group model of X STRs.


      Typing of X chromosomal short tandem repeat (X STR) markers has become a standard element of human forensic genetic analysis. Joint consideration of many X STR markers at a time increases their discriminatory power but, owing to physical linkage, requires inter-marker recombination rates to be accurately known. We estimated the recombination rates between 15 well established X STR markers using genotype data from 158 families (1041 individuals) and following a previously proposed likelihood-based approach that allows for single-step mutations. To meet the computational requirements of this family-based type of analysis, we modified a previous implementation so as to allow multi-core parallelization on a high-performance computing system. While we obtained recombination rate estimates larger than zero for all but one pair of adjacent markers within the four previously proposed linkage groups, none of the three X STR pairs defining the junctions of these groups yielded a recombination rate estimate of 0.50. Corroborating previous studies, our results therefore argue against a simple model of independent X chromosomal linkage groups. Moreover, the refined recombination fraction estimates obtained in our study will facilitate the appropriate joint consideration of all 15 investigated markers in forensic analysis.

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