Genes linked to diabetes discovered in two separate studies

A gene that is linked to fasting glucose and insulin levels was recently identified in rats, mice and humans, report researchers in the journal Genetics.

The Tpcn2 gene is a calcium channel that likely is associated with insulin signaling.

When studying different types of mice - those that had been genetically modified to not have the Tpcn2 gene and those who had it - the researchers found differences in fasting glucose levels, as well as in the insulin response.

The team also found variants of the gene that were associated with fasting insulin in humans.

Other diabetes-related genes

In a separate study from Harvard researchers, nine genetic variants were discovered recently that dramatically increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

"These rare mutations are only seen in one in 1,000 individuals, but the effect on the individual is very strong because they increase risk by 700 per cent," said Amit Majithia, instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital.

According to Dr. Leah Solberg Woods, corresponding author of the Tpcn2 study, genes related to diabetes are numerous, but they may not give a complete picture of how genetics play a role in the development of diabetes.

"Genome-wide association studies in humans have identified 60+ genes linked to type 2 diabetes; however, these genes explain only a small portion of heritability in diabetes studies," Solberg said. "As we continue to identify genes and variants of interest, we will evaluate them in multiple models to understand the mechanism of disease."

Source: Medical College of Wisconsin, Harvard
Image courtesy of sheelamohan/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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