Genetic analysis of type II diabetes in Finnish population
2011 Fiscal Year
October 01, 2010 - September 30, 2011
Francis S Collins; MD, PhD
Genome Technology Branch, NHGRI
Diabetes, Gene Mapping (human), Biotechnology Research, Gene Mapping, Genetic Medicine, Genetics, Health Disparity, Human Genome Research, Kidney Disease, Obesity, Prevention
Goals and Objectives
Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a major contributor to chronic disease and early death in the developed and developing world. Using cutting-edge technologies developed from the human genome project, we aim to identify the most important hereditary factors in T2D and related traits, and to assess their role in different populations, their functional basis, and their potential for applications to diagnosis, prevention and treatment of disease.
Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is one of the major causes of morbidity and mortality in the developed world. While environmental factors such as diet play a significant role, familial clustering indicates that there must be significant genetic susceptibility factors at work. For eighteen years we have been engaged in a large collaborative study entitled FUSION (Finland - United States Investigation of NIDDM), in which more than 30,000 individuals with diabetes (and suitable controls) from Finland are being studied, using careful phenotyping of diabetes and diabetes-associated quantitative traits, and genome-wide genetic linkage and association. Large numbers of additional samples are also now available from several collaborators around the world. We have developed and applied new high throughput genotyping approaches in the laboratory, which have allowed the collection of a massive amount of data from these Finnish diabetics and their families. Using the genome wide association study (GWAS) approach, we have now contributed to the identification of no less than 56 well-validated loci for T2D, and have identified additional loci harboring variants that have important effects on obesity, fasting glucose, LDL and HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, proinsulin levels, blood pressure, and adult height. We are now investigating the functional basis of disease risk that arises from several of these variants, including those in GCKR, IGF2BP2, and TCF7L2. This analysis includes high throughput sequencing of these loci to identify common and rare alleles that may be driving the association, analysis of the relationship between gene expression and risk haplotypes, cell culture and biochemical assays, and mouse models. We have also embarked upon large scale whole exome and whole genome sequencing of diabetics and controls, to look for rare variants of large effect that contribute to disease risk. This includes an effort to identify the cause of rare Mendelian forms of the disease such as neonatal diabetes, congential hyperinsulinemia, and unmapped loci for Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young (MODY). A major effort has been devoted to defining the epigenome of the human pancreatic islet, by mapping a variety of chromatin marks across the entire genome. This has enabled identification of enhancers and insulators, some of which harbor variants that influence the risk of T2D. The newest component of the project involves the collection of skin, muscle, and adipose biopsies from individuals with normal glucose tolerance, impaired glucose tolerance, or early onset T2D. These will be analyzed for genotype and gene expression to identify correlates with disease. The skin biopsies are also being utilized to generate induced pluripotent stem cell lines (iPS), which in turn can be differentiated into tissues relevant to diabetes (including insulin producing cells), to study the relationships of disease risk alleles to cellular phenotype. With this kind of substantial progress, we are confident that the geneticist's nightmare (Jim Neel's description of the genetics of diabetes) may finally be coming to an end.