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BMC Med. 2017 Dec 6;15(1):213. doi: 10.1186/s12916-017-0977-3.

Spectrum of mutations in monogenic diabetes genes identified from high-throughput DNA sequencing of 6888 individuals.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA.
Sanofi-Aventis Germany GmbH, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
Scripps Translational Science Institute and Scripps Health, La Jolla, CA, USA.
Department of Internal Medicine I, Ulm University Medical Centre, Ulm, Germany.
Department of Internal Medicine I, Ulm University Medical Centre, Ulm, Germany.
Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore.
Imperial College London, London, UK.



Diagnosis of monogenic as well as atypical forms of diabetes mellitus has important clinical implications for their specific diagnosis, prognosis, and targeted treatment. Single gene mutations that affect beta-cell function represent 1-2% of all cases of diabetes. However, phenotypic heterogeneity and lack of family history of diabetes can limit the diagnosis of monogenic forms of diabetes. Next-generation sequencing technologies provide an excellent opportunity to screen large numbers of individuals with a diagnosis of diabetes for mutations in disease-associated genes.


We utilized a targeted sequencing approach using the Illumina HiSeq to perform a case-control sequencing study of 22 monogenic diabetes genes in 4016 individuals with type 2 diabetes (including 1346 individuals diagnosed before the age of 40 years) and 2872 controls. We analyzed protein-coding variants identified from the sequence data and compared the frequencies of pathogenic variants (protein-truncating variants and missense variants) between the cases and controls.


A total of 40 individuals with diabetes (1.8% of early onset sub-group and 0.6% of adult onset sub-group) were carriers of known pathogenic missense variants in the GCK, HNF1A, HNF4A, ABCC8, and INS genes. In addition, heterozygous protein truncating mutations were detected in the GCK, HNF1A, and HNF1B genes in seven individuals with diabetes. Rare missense mutations in the GCK gene were significantly over-represented in individuals with diabetes (0.5% carrier frequency) compared to controls (0.035%). One individual with early onset diabetes was homozygous for a rare pathogenic missense variant in the WFS1 gene but did not have the additional phenotypes associated with Wolfram syndrome.


Targeted sequencing of genes linked with monogenic diabetes can identify disease-relevant mutations in individuals diagnosed with type 2 diabetes not suspected of having monogenic forms of the disease. Our data suggests that GCK-MODY frequently masquerades as classical type 2 diabetes. The results confirm that MODY is under-diagnosed, particularly in individuals presenting with early onset diabetes and clinically labeled as type 2 diabetes; thus, sequencing of all monogenic diabetes genes should be routinely considered in such individuals. Genetic information can provide a specific diagnosis, inform disease prognosis and may help to better stratify treatment plans.


DNA pooling; High-throughput sequencing; MODY; Monogenic diabetes; Pathogenic variants; Targeted sequencing; Type 2 diabetes

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