HLA and genomewide allele sharing in dizygotic twins.
Gametic selection during fertilization or the effects of specific genotypes on the viability of embryos may cause a skewed transmission of chromosomes to surviving offspring. A recent analysis of transmission distortion in humans reported significant excess sharing among full siblings. Dizygotic (DZ) twin pairs are a special case of the simultaneous survival of two genotypes, and there have been reports of DZ pairs with excess allele sharing around the HLA locus, a candidate locus for embryo survival. We performed an allele-sharing study of 1,592 DZ twin pairs from two independent Australian cohorts, of which 1,561 pairs were informative for linkage on chromosome 6. We also analyzed allele sharing in 336 DZ twin pairs from The Netherlands. We found no evidence of excess allele sharing, either at the HLA locus or in the rest of the genome. In contrast, we found evidence of a small but significant (P=.003 for the Australian sample) genomewide deficit in the proportion of two alleles shared identical by descent among DZ twin pairs. We reconciled conflicting evidence in the literature for excess genomewide allele sharing by performing a simulation study that shows how undetected genotyping errors can lead to an apparent deficit or excess of allele sharing among sibling pairs, dependent on whether parental genotypes are known. Our results imply that gene-mapping studies based on affected sibling pairs that include DZ pairs will not suffer from false-positive results due to loci involved in embryo survival.