University of Michigan Center for Statistical 


Detecting and estimating contamination of human DNA samples in sequencing and array-based genotype data.

Jun G, Flickinger M, Hetrick KN, Romm JM, Doheny KF, Abecasis GR, Boehnke M and Kang HM

Am J Hum Genet (2012) 91:839-48

DNA sample contamination is a serious problem in DNA sequencing studies and may result in systematic genotype misclassification and false positive associations. Although methods exist to detect and filter out cross-species contamination, few methods to detect within-species sample contamination are available. In this paper, we describe methods to identify within-species DNA sample contamination based on (1) a combination of sequencing reads and array-based genotype data, (2) sequence reads alone, and (3) array-based genotype data alone. Analysis of sequencing reads allows contamination detection after sequence data is generated but prior to variant calling; analysis of array-based genotype data allows contamination detection prior to generation of costly sequence data. Through a combination of analysis of in silico and experimentally contaminated samples, we show that our methods can reliably detect and estimate levels of contamination as low as 1%. We evaluate the impact of DNA contamination on genotype accuracy and propose effective strategies to screen for and prevent DNA contamination in sequencing studies.




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