Geneticists have identified five different areas of DNA base-pair change that contribute significantly towards the risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus. The finding helps tease apart the complex mix of genetic and environmental factors that contribute to the disease, and may guide the direction of future therapeutics.
Constantin Polychronakos and colleagues used high-density arrays to look for the occurrence of over 390,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) - particular regions of DNA containing a single base-pair change - in the genomes of over 2,000 patients with type 2 diabetes and more than 2,000 controls. They identified four different SNP-containing regions that conferred a significant risk to developing the disease, and confirmed an already known association between the TCF7L2 gene and type 2 diabetes. These five genetic regions together might account for 70% of the genetic risk, the authors say.
The important variants occur in genes related to the control of insulin secretion and pancreatic development. One gene encodes a protein that helps move zinc ions around and is found solely in the secretory vesicles of beta-cells, which make and release insulin. The finding, published online by Nature, has possible dietary implications and hints that therapies targeting zinc may be worth a shot.
Constantin Polychronakos (McGill University, Montreal, Quebec Canada)
Nelson B. Freimer (UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, USA)
E-mail: email@example.com (N&V author)
(C) Nature press release.
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