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Diabetologia. 1997 Aug;40(8):980-3.

Studies of the genetic variability of the coding region of the hepatocyte nuclear factor-4alpha in Caucasians with maturity onset NIDDM.

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Steno Diabetes Center and Hagedorn Research Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Mutations in the hepatocyte nuclear factor-4alpha (HNF-4alpha) gene cause the type 1 form of maturity onset diabetes of the young (MODY1). To address the question of whether genetic variability of HNF-4alpha is associated with late onset non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) we have sequenced the coding region and intron/exon boundaries of the gene in 36 randomly recruited Danish NIDDM patients. Two nucleotide substitutions that changed the sequence of HNF-4alpha were identified: Thr/Ile130, which has been reported previously and a novel Val/Met255. The Val/Met 255 mutation was found in 4 of 477 Danish NIDDM patients and in none of 217 glucose tolerant control subjects; thus it cannot be excluded that this mutation may have an impact on NIDDM susceptibility. Among 509 NIDDM patients the allelic frequency of the Thr/Ile130 variant was 4.7% (95% confidence interval: 3.4-6.0%) compared to 1.9% (0.7-3.1%) among 239 control subjects (p = 0.008). However, in a population sample of 942 Swedish men with an average age of 70 years the allelic frequency of the variant was similar in 246 men with either impaired glucose tolerance (5.6% [2.6-8.6%]) or NIDDM (5.4% [2.7-8.1%]) as compared to 666 glucose tolerant men (5.1% [3.9-6.3%]). Also in a population sample of 369 young healthy Danes the prevalence of the codon 130 variant (4.7% [3.2-6.2%]) was similar to what was found in Swedish Caucasians. Thus, the allelic frequency of the Thr/Ile130 variant among the control subjects in the Danish case-control study deviates from the prevalence in the two other studies which is why we consider the significant association between the codon 130 variant and NIDDM an incidental finding. In glucose tolerant subjects the codon 130 variant in its heterozygous form had no major effect on glucose-induced insulin and C-peptide release although a tendency to a lower insulin secretion during an oral glucose tolerance test was seen in middle-aged subjects. In conclusion, variability in the coding region of the HNF-4alpha gene is not a common cause of NIDDM among whites of Danish ancestry. However, a Val/Met255 mutation was found exclusively in NIDDM patients (0.8% of cases) and functional as well as family segregation studies are needed to determine whether this HNF-4alpha variant is a NIDDM causing mutation.

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