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Cell Metab. 2012 Jul 3;16(1):122-34. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2012.06.006.

A systems genetics approach identifies genes and pathways for type 2 diabetes in human islets.

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Lund University Diabetes Center, Department of Clinical Sciences, Diabetes and Endocrinology, Skåne University Hospital Malmö, Lund University, Malmö 20502, Sweden.


Close to 50 genetic loci have been associated with type 2 diabetes (T2D), but they explain only 15% of the heritability. In an attempt to identify additional T2D genes, we analyzed global gene expression in human islets from 63 donors. Using 48 genes located near T2D risk variants, we identified gene coexpression and protein-protein interaction networks that were strongly associated with islet insulin secretion and HbA(1c). We integrated our data to form a rank list of putative T2D genes, of which CHL1, LRFN2, RASGRP1, and PPM1K were validated in INS-1 cells to influence insulin secretion, whereas GPR120 affected apoptosis in islets. Expression variation of the top 20 genes explained 24% of the variance in HbA(1c) with no claim of the direction. The data present a global map of genes associated with islet dysfunction and demonstrate the value of systems genetics for the identification of genes potentially involved in T2D.

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