Briefings in Bioinformatics

EQTLHap: A tool for comprehensive eQTL analysis considering haplotypic and genotypic effects

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Motivation: The high accuracy of recent haplotype phasing tools is enabling the integration of haplotype (or phase) information more widely in genetic investigations. One such possibility is phase-aware expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) analysis, where haplotype-based analysis has the potential to detect associations that may otherwise be missed by standard SNP-based approaches. Results: We present eQTLHap, a novel method to investigate associations between gene expression and genetic variants, considering their haplotypic and genotypic effect. Using multiple simulations based on real data, we demonstrate that phase-aware eQTL analysis significantly outperforms typical SNP-based methods when the causal genetic architecture involves multiple SNPs. We show that phase-aware eQTL analysis is robust to phasing errors, showing only a minor impact ($<4\%$) on sensitivity. Applying eQTLHap to real GEUVADIS and GTEx datasets detects numerous novel eQTLs undetected by a single-SNP approach, with 22 eQTLs replicating across studies or tissue types, highlighting the utility of phase-aware eQTL analysis. Contact: