MultiMap: An Expert System for Automated Genetic Linkage Mapping

T. C. Matise, M. Perlin and A. Chakravarti

With the advent of the Human Genome Project. the ability to rapidly construct comprehensive and accurate linkage maps based on genetic marker data from family studies is an absolute necessity. In addition to their usefulness in localizing genes for both simple and complex disorders, linkage maps are invaluable tools for genetic counseling using linked marker genes. Several computer program packages are publicly available which aid in the construction of linkage maps by computing multipoint likelihoods for specified locus orders. However, these programs work in a step-by-step fashion, requiring intensive user-intervention and analysis at each step. Such a repetitive process is amenable to computerized automation. We have developed and tested an expert system computer program, MultiMap, for automated genetic linkage mapping. This program greatly reduces the amount of user-computer interaction, increasing the accuracy and speed with which a map can be constructed. In addition, because the total mapping time is greatly reduced through automation, it is now feasible to explore and compare various mapping heuristics and mapping criteria in order to develop the most appropriate approach, or set of approaches, for genetic linkage mapping. MultiMap need not be restricted to the construction of genetic maps, but could be adapted to aid in the automated construction of physical maps as well.

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