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Insulin resistance is a common feature of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) and "diabetes susceptibility genes" may be involved in this abnormality. Two potential candidate genes are the insulin receptor (IR) and the insulin-sensitive glucose transporter (GLUT-4). To elucidate whether structural defects in the IR and/or GLUT-4 could be a primary cause of insulin resistance in NIDDM, we have sequenced the entire coding region of the GLUT-4 gene from DNA of six NIDDM patients. Since binding properties of the IRs from NIDDM subjects are normal, we also analyzed the sequence of exons 16-22 (encoding the entire cytoplasmic domain of the IR) of the IR gene from the same six patients. When compared with the normal IR sequence, no difference was found in the predicted amino acid sequence of the IR cytoplasmic domain derived from the NIDDM patients. Sequence analysis of the GLUT-4 gene revealed that one patient was heterozygous for a mutation in which isoleucine (ATC) was substituted for valine (GTC) at position 383. Consequently, the GLUT-4 sequence at position 383 was determined in 24 additional NIDDM patients and 30 nondiabetic controls and all showed only the normal sequence. From these studies, we conclude that the insulin resistance seen in the great majority of subjects with the common form of NIDDM is not due to genetic variation in the coding sequence of the IR beta subunit, nor to any single mutation in the GLUT-4 gene. Possibly, a subpopulation of NIDDM patients exists displaying variation in the GLUT-4 gene.