Genetic variation can modulate gene expression, and thereby phenotypic variation and susceptibility to complex diseases such as type 2 diabetes (T2D). Here we harnessed the potential of DNA and RNA sequencing in human pancreatic islets from 89 deceased donors to identify genes of potential importance in the pathogenesis of T2D. We present a catalog of genetic variants regulating gene expression (eQTL) and exon use (sQTL), including many long noncoding RNAs, which are enriched in known T2D-associated loci. Of 35 eQTL genes, whose expression differed between normoglycemic and hyperglycemic individuals, siRNA of tetraspanin 33 (TSPAN33), 5'-nucleotidase, ecto (NT5E), transmembrane emp24 protein transport domain containing 6 (TMED6), and p21 protein activated kinase 7 (PAK7) in INS1 cells resulted in reduced glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. In addition, we provide a genome-wide catalog of allelic expression imbalance, which is also enriched in known T2D-associated loci. Notably, allelic imbalance in paternally expressed gene 3 (PEG3) was associated with its promoter methylation and T2D status. Finally, RNA editing events were less common in islets than previously suggested in other tissues. Taken together, this study provides new insights into the complexity of gene regulation in human pancreatic islets and better understanding of how genetic variation can influence glucose metabolism.
Genome-wide association studies have revealed >60 loci associated with type 2 diabetes (T2D), but the underlying causal variants and functional mechanisms remain largely elusive. Although variants in TCF7L2 confer the strongest risk of T2D among common variants by presumed effects on islet function, the molecular mechanisms are not yet well understood. Using RNA-sequencing, we have identified a TCF7L2-regulated transcriptional network responsible for its effect on insulin secretion in rodent and human pancreatic islets. ISL1 is a primary target of TCF7L2 and regulates proinsulin production and processing via MAFA, PDX1, NKX6.1, PCSK1, PCSK2 and SLC30A8, thereby providing evidence for a coordinated regulation of insulin production and processing. The risk T-allele of rs7903146 was associated with increased TCF7L2 expression, and decreased insulin content and secretion. Using gene expression profiles of 66 human pancreatic islets donors', we also show that the identified TCF7L2-ISL1 transcriptional network is regulated in a genotype-dependent manner. Taken together, these results demonstrate that not only synthesis of proinsulin is regulated by TCF7L2 but also processing and possibly clearance of proinsulin and insulin. These multiple targets in key pathways may explain why TCF7L2 has emerged as the gene showing one of the strongest associations with T2D.
Metabolite concentrations reflect the physiological states of tissues and cells. However, the role of metabolic changes in species evolution is currently unknown. Here, we present a study of metabolome evolution conducted in three brain regions and two non-neural tissues from humans, chimpanzees, macaque monkeys, and mice based on over 10,000 hydrophilic compounds. While chimpanzee, macaque, and mouse metabolomes diverge following the genetic distances among species, we detect remarkable acceleration of metabolome evolution in human prefrontal cortex and skeletal muscle affecting neural and energy metabolism pathways. These metabolic changes could not be attributed to environmental conditions and were confirmed against the expression of their corresponding enzymes. We further conducted muscle strength tests in humans, chimpanzees, and macaques. The results suggest that, while humans are characterized by superior cognition, their muscular performance might be markedly inferior to that of chimpanzees and macaque monkeys.
Variants in the growth factor receptor-bound protein 10 (GRB10) gene were in a GWAS meta-analysis associated with reduced glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and increased risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D) if inherited from the father, but inexplicably reduced fasting glucose when inherited from the mother. GRB10 is a negative regulator of insulin signaling and imprinted in a parent-of-origin fashion in different tissues. GRB10 knock-down in human pancreatic islets showed reduced insulin and glucagon secretion, which together with changes in insulin sensitivity may explain the paradoxical reduction of glucose despite a decrease in insulin secretion. Together, these findings suggest that tissue-specific methylation and possibly imprinting of GRB10 can influence glucose metabolism and contribute to T2D pathogenesis. The data also emphasize the need in genetic studies to consider whether risk alleles are inherited from the mother or the father.
Genome-wide association studies have revealed numerous risk loci associated with diverse diseases. However, identification of disease-causing variants within association loci remains a major challenge. Divergence in gene expression due to cis-regulatory variants in noncoding regions is central to disease susceptibility. We show that integrative computational analysis of phylogenetic conservation with a complexity assessment of co-occurring transcription factor binding sites (TFBS) can identify cis-regulatory variants and elucidate their mechanistic role in disease. Analysis of established type 2 diabetes risk loci revealed a striking clustering of distinct homeobox TFBS. We identified the PRRX1 homeobox factor as a repressor of PPARG2 expression in adipose cells and demonstrate its adverse effect on lipid metabolism and systemic insulin sensitivity, dependent on the rs4684847 risk allele that triggers PRRX1 binding. Thus, cross-species conservation analysis at the level of co-occurring TFBS provides a valuable contribution to the translation of genetic association signals to disease-related molecular mechanisms.
Using an integrative approach where genetic variation, gene expression and clinical phenotypes are assessed in relevant tissues may help functionally characterize the genetic contribution to disease susceptibility. We sought to identify genetic variation influencing skeletal muscle gene expression (eQTL), as well as expression associated with measures of insulin sensitivity. We investigated associations of 3799401 genetic variants with gene expression from >7000 genes from three cohorts (n=104). We identified 287 genes with cis-acting eQTLs (FDR<5%; P<1.96x10(-5)) and 49 expression-insulin sensitivity phenotype associations (i.e. fasting insulin, HOMA-IR and BMI) (FDR<5%; P=1.34x10(-4)). One of these associations, fasting insulin/phosphofructokinase (PFKM), overlaps with an eQTL. Further, the expression of PFKM, a rate-limiting enzyme in glycolysis, was nominally associated with glucose uptake in skeletal muscle (P=0.026, n=42) and over-expressed (PBF-corrected=0.03) in skeletal muscle in T2D patients (n=102) compared with normoglycemic controls (n=87). The PFKM eQTL (rs4547172; PeQTL=7.69x10(-6)) was nominally associated with glucose uptake, glucose oxidation rate, intramuscular triglyceride content, and metabolic flexibility (P=0.016-0.048, n=178). We explored eQTL results using published GWAS data (from DIAGRAM and MAGIC) and a proxy for the PFKM eQTL (rs11168327, r2=0.75), was nominally associated with T2D (PDIAGRAM=2.7x10(-3)). Taken together, our analysis highlights PFKM as a potential regulator of skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity.
Low-grade inflammation in obesity is associated with accumulation of the macrophage-derived cytokine osteopontin (OPN) in adipose tissue and induction of local as well as systemic insulin resistance. Since glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) is a strong stimulator of adipogenesis and may play a role in the development of obesity, we explored whether GIP directly would stimulate OPN expression in adipose tissue and thereby induce insulin resistance. GIP stimulated OPN protein expression in a dose-dependent fashion in rat primary adipocytes. The level of OPN mRNA was higher in adipose tissue of obese individuals (0.13 ± 0.04 vs. 0.04 ± 0.01, P < 0.05) and correlated inversely with measures of insulin sensitivity (r = -0.24, P = 0.001). A common variant of the GIP receptor (GIPR) (rs10423928) gene was associated with a lower amount of the exon 9-containing isoform required for transmembrane activity. Carriers of the A allele with a reduced receptor function showed lower adipose tissue OPN mRNA levels and better insulin sensitivity. Together, these data suggest a role for GIP not only as an incretin hormone but also as a trigger of inflammation and insulin resistance in adipose tissue. Carriers of the GIPR rs10423928 A allele showed protective properties via reduced GIP effects. Identification of this unprecedented link between GIP and OPN in adipose tissue might open new avenues for therapeutic interventions.
The transcription factor T-cell factor 7-like 2 (TCF7L2) confers type 2 diabetes risk mainly through impaired insulin secretion, perturbed incretin effect and reduced beta-cell survival. The aim of this study was to identify the molecular mechanism through which TCF7L2 influences beta-cell survival. TCF7L2 target genes in INS-1 cells were identified using Chromatin Immunoprecipitation. Validation of targets was obtained by: siRNA silencing, real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction, electrophoretic mobility shift assay, luciferase reporter assays and western blot. Apoptosis rate was measured by DNA degradation and caspase-3 content. Islet viability was estimated by measuring metabolic rate. TCF7L2 binds to 3646 gene promoters in INS-1 cells in high or low glucose, including Tp53, Pten, Uggt1, Adamts9 and Fto. SiRNA-mediated reduction in TCF7L2 activity resulted in increased apoptosis and increased expression of Tp53, which resulted in elevated p53 protein activity and an increased expression of the p53 target gene Tp53inp1 (encoding p53-induced-nuclear-protein 1). Reversing the increase in p53INP1 protein expression, seen after Tcf7l2 silencing, protected INS-1 cells from Tcf7l2 depletion-induced apoptosis. This result was replicated in primary rat islets. The risk T-allele of rs7903146 is associated with increased TCF7L2 mRNA expression and transcriptional activity. On the other hand, in vitro silencing of TCF7L2 lead to increased apoptosis. One possibility is that the risk T-allele increases expression of an inhibitory TCF7L2 isoform with lower transcriptional activity. These results identify the p53-p53INP1 pathway as a molecular mechanism through which TCF7L2 may affect beta-cell survival and established a molecular link between Tcf7l2 and two type 2 diabetes-associated genes, Tp53inp1 and Adamts9.
The incretin hormone GIP (glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide) promotes pancreatic ?-cell function by potentiating insulin secretion and ?-cell proliferation. Recently, a combined analysis of several genome-wide association studies (Meta-analysis of Glucose and Insulin-Related Traits Consortium [MAGIC]) showed association to postprandial insulin at the GIP receptor (GIPR) locus. Here we explored mechanisms that could explain the protective effects of GIP on islet function.
The aim of the study was to determine the relation between peak oxygen uptake V(O2)peak), peak work rate (WRpeak), fiber-type composition, and lower extremity strength and endurance during a maximal incremental cycle test. Thirty-nine healthy sedentary men, aged 30-46, participated in the study. Subjects performed a maximal incremental cycle test and isokinetic knee extension (KE) and flexion (KF) strength and endurance tests at velocities of 60 and 180° · s(-1). Muscle biopsies were taken from m. vastus lateralis and analyzed for fiber-type composition. A significant correlation existed between KE strength and V(O2)peak and WRpeak. Also, KF endurance correlated significantly to V(O2)peak and WRpeak. The KE endurance correlated significantly to WRpeak (rp = 0.32, p < 0.05) and almost significantly to V(O2)peak (rp = 0.28, p = 0.06). Stepwise multiple regression analyses showed that KE strength, KF endurance, and the percentage of type I fibers could explain up to 40% of the variation in V(O2) and WRpeak. The performance of sedentary subjects in a maximal incremental cycle test is highly affected by knee muscle strength and endurance. Fiber-type composition also contributes but to a smaller extent.
Type 2 diabetes patients exhibit a reduction in oxidative muscle fibres and an increase in glycolytic muscle fibres. In this study, we investigated whether both genetic and non-genetic factors influence the mRNA expression levels of three myosin heavy chain (MHC) genes represented in different fibre types. Specifically, we examined the MHC7 (slow-twitch oxidative fibre), MHCIIa (fast-twitch oxidative fibre) and MHCIIx/d (fast-twitch glycolytic fibre) genes in human skeletal muscle. We further investigated the use of MHC mRNA expression as a proxy to determine fibre-type composition, as measured by traditional ATP staining. Two cohorts of age-matched Swedish men were studied to determine the relationship of muscle mRNA expression of MHC7, MHCIIa, and MHCIIx/d with muscle fibre composition. A classical twin approach, including young and elderly Danish twin pairs, was utilised to examine if differences in expression levels were due to genetic or environmental factors. Although MHCIIx/d mRNA expression correlated positively with the level of type IIx/d muscle fibres in the two cohorts (P<0.05), a relatively low magnitude of correlation suggests that mRNA does not fully correlate with fibre-type composition. Heritability estimates and genetic analysis suggest that the levels of MHC7, MHCIIa and MHCIIx/d expression are primarily under non-genetic influence, and MHCIIa indicated an age-related decline. PGC-1? exhibited a positive relationship with the expression of all three MHC genes (P<0.05); meanwhile, PGC-1? related positively with MHCIIa expression and negatively with MHCIIx/d expression (P<0.05). While MHCIIa expression related positively with insulin-stimulated glucose uptake (P<0.01), MHCIIx/d expression related negatively with insulin-stimulated glucose uptake (P<0.05). Our findings suggest that the expression levels of the MHC genes are associated with age and both PGC-1? and PGC-1? and indicate that the MHC genes may to some extent be used to determine fibre-type composition in human skeletal muscle.
TCF7L2 harbors the variant with the strongest effect on type 2 diabetes (T2D) identified to date, yet the molecular mechanism as to how variation in the gene increases the risk for developing T2D remains elusive. The phenotypic changes associated with the risk genotype suggest that T2D arises as a consequence of reduced islet mass and/or impaired function, and it has become clear that TCF7L2 plays an important role for several vital functions in the pancreatic islet. TCF7L2 comprises 17 exons, five of which are alternative (ie, exons 4 and 13-16). In pancreatic islets four splice variants of TCF7L2 are predominantly expressed. The regulation of these variants and the functional consequences at the protein level are still poorly understood. A clear picture of the molecular mechanism will be necessary to understand how an intronic variation in TCF7L2 can influence islet function.
Several common genetic variations have been associated with type 2 diabetes, but the exact disease mechanisms are still poorly elucidated. Using congenic strains from the diabetic Goto-Kakizaki rat, we identified a 1.4-megabase genomic locus that was linked to impaired insulin granule docking at the plasma membrane and reduced beta cell exocytosis. In this locus, Adra2a, encoding the alpha2A-adrenergic receptor [alpha(2A)AR], was significantly overexpressed. Alpha(2A)AR mediates adrenergic suppression of insulin secretion. Pharmacological receptor antagonism, silencing of receptor expression, or blockade of downstream effectors rescued insulin secretion in congenic islets. Furthermore, we identified a single-nucleotide polymorphism in the human ADRA2A gene for which risk allele carriers exhibited overexpression of alpha(2A)AR, reduced insulin secretion, and increased type 2 diabetes risk. Human pancreatic islets from risk allele carriers exhibited reduced granule docking and secreted less insulin in response to glucose; both effects were counteracted by pharmacological alpha(2A)AR antagonists.
Common variants in the transcription factor 7-like 2 (TCF7L2) gene have been identified as the strongest genetic risk factors for type 2 diabetes (T2D). However, the mechanisms by which these non-coding variants increase risk for T2D are not well-established. We used 13 expression assays to survey mRNA expression of multiple TCF7L2 splicing forms in up to 380 samples from eight types of human tissue (pancreas, pancreatic islets, colon, liver, monocytes, skeletal muscle, subcutaneous adipose tissue and lymphoblastoid cell lines) and observed a tissue-specific pattern of alternative splicing. We tested whether the expression of TCF7L2 splicing forms was associated with single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), rs7903146 and rs12255372, located within introns 3 and 4 of the gene and most strongly associated with T2D. Expression of two splicing forms was lower in pancreatic islets with increasing counts of T2D-associated alleles of the SNPs: a ubiquitous splicing form (P = 0.018 for rs7903146 and P = 0.020 for rs12255372) and a splicing form found in pancreatic islets, pancreas and colon but not in other tissues tested here (P = 0.009 for rs12255372 and P = 0.053 for rs7903146). Expression of this form in glucose-stimulated pancreatic islets correlated with expression of proinsulin (r(2) = 0.84-0.90, P < 0.00063). In summary, we identified a tissue-specific pattern of alternative splicing of TCF7L2. After adjustment for multiple tests, no association between expression of TCF7L2 in eight types of human tissue samples and T2D-associated genetic variants remained significant. Alternative splicing of TCF7L2 in pancreatic islets warrants future studies. GenBank Accession Numbers: FJ010164-FJ010174.
Here, we investigated the importance of hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL) as a retinyl ester hydrolase (REH). REH activity was measured in vitro using recombinant HSL and retinyl palmitate. The expression of retinoic acid (RA)-regulated genes and retinoid metabolites were measured in high-fat diet fed HSL-null mice using real-time quantitative PCR and triple-stage liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry, respectively. Age- and gender-matched wild-type littermates were used as controls. The REH activity of rat HSL was found to be higher than that against the hitherto best known HSL substrate, i.e., diacylglycerols. REH activity in white adipose tissue (WAT) of HSL-null mice was completely blunted and accompanied by increased levels of retinyl esters and decreased levels of retinol, retinaldehyde and all-trans RA. Accordingly, genes known to be positively regulated by RA were down-regulated in HSL-null mice, including pRb and RIP140, key factors promoting differentiation into the white over the brown adipocyte lineage. Dietary RA supplementation partly restored WAT mass and the expression of RA-regulated genes in WAT of HSL-null mice. These findings demonstrate the importance of HSL as an REH of adipose tissue and suggest that HSL via this action provides RA and other retinoids for signaling events that are crucial for adipocyte differentiation and lineage commitment.
A plethora of candidate genes have been identified for complex polygenic disorders, but the underlying disease mechanisms remain largely unknown. We explored the pathophysiology of type 2 diabetes (T2D) by analyzing global gene expression in human pancreatic islets. A group of coexpressed genes (module), enriched for interleukin-1-related genes, was associated with T2D and reduced insulin secretion. One of the module genes that was highly overexpressed in islets from T2D patients is SFRP4, which encodes secreted frizzled-related protein 4. SFRP4 expression correlated with inflammatory markers, and its release from islets was stimulated by interleukin-1?. Elevated systemic SFRP4 caused reduced glucose tolerance through decreased islet expression of Ca(2+) channels and suppressed insulin exocytosis. SFRP4 thus provides a link between islet inflammation and impaired insulin secretion. Moreover, the protein was increased in serum from T2D patients several years before the diagnosis, suggesting that SFRP4 could be a potential biomarker for islet dysfunction in T2D.
Total muscle triglyceride (MT) content has been associated with insulin resistance. We investigated the predictors and impact of MT on relevant metabolic parameters including peripheral and hepatic insulin resistance in elderly twins.
To identify epigenetic patterns, which may predispose to type 2 diabetes (T2D) due to a family history (FH) of the disease, we analyzed DNA methylation genome-wide in skeletal muscle from individuals with (FH(+)) or without (FH(-)) an FH of T2D. We found differential DNA methylation of genes in biological pathways including mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), insulin, and calcium signaling (P ? 0.007) and of individual genes with known function in muscle, including MAPK1, MYO18B, HOXC6, and the AMP-activated protein kinase subunit PRKAB1 in skeletal muscle of FH(+) compared with FH(-) men. We further validated our findings from FH(+) men in monozygotic twin pairs discordant for T2D, and 40% of 65 analyzed genes exhibited differential DNA methylation in muscle of both FH(+) men and diabetic twins. We further examined if a 6-month exercise intervention modifies the genome-wide DNA methylation pattern in skeletal muscle of the FH(+) and FH(-) individuals. DNA methylation of genes in retinol metabolism and calcium signaling pathways (P < 3 × 10(-6)) and with known functions in muscle and T2D including MEF2A, RUNX1, NDUFC2, and THADA decreased after exercise. Methylation of these human promoter regions suppressed reporter gene expression in vitro. In addition, both expression and methylation of several genes, i.e., ADIPOR1, BDKRB2, and TRIB1, changed after exercise. These findings provide new insights into how genetic background and environment can alter the human epigenome.
Close to 50 genetic loci have been associated with type 2 diabetes (T2D), but they explain only 15% of the heritability. In an attempt to identify additional T2D genes, we analyzed global gene expression in human islets from 63 donors. Using 48 genes located near T2D risk variants, we identified gene coexpression and protein-protein interaction networks that were strongly associated with islet insulin secretion and HbA(1c). We integrated our data to form a rank list of putative T2D genes, of which CHL1, LRFN2, RASGRP1, and PPM1K were validated in INS-1 cells to influence insulin secretion, whereas GPR120 affected apoptosis in islets. Expression variation of the top 20 genes explained 24% of the variance in HbA(1c) with no claim of the direction. The data present a global map of genes associated with islet dysfunction and demonstrate the value of systems genetics for the identification of genes potentially involved in T2D.
Recent genome-wide association studies have described many loci implicated in type 2 diabetes (T2D) pathophysiology and ?-cell dysfunction but have contributed little to the understanding of the genetic basis of insulin resistance. We hypothesized that genes implicated in insulin resistance pathways might be uncovered by accounting for differences in body mass index (BMI) and potential interactions between BMI and genetic variants. We applied a joint meta-analysis approach to test associations with fasting insulin and glucose on a genome-wide scale. We present six previously unknown loci associated with fasting insulin at P < 5 × 10(-8) in combined discovery and follow-up analyses of 52 studies comprising up to 96,496 non-diabetic individuals. Risk variants were associated with higher triglyceride and lower high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels, suggesting a role for these loci in insulin resistance pathways. The discovery of these loci will aid further characterization of the role of insulin resistance in T2D pathophysiology.
We have previously performed a genome-wide linkage study in Scandinavian Type 1 diabetes (T1D) families. In the Swedish families, we detected suggestive linkage (LOD?2.2) to the chromosome 5p13-q13 region. The aim of our study was to investigate the linked region in search for possible T1D susceptibility genes.
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