Variants in the TCF7L2 gene remain the strongest genetic associations with increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Recently, we identified a unique splicing form of TCF7L2 expressed in pancreatic islets, pancreas and colon and detected by assay ‘ex13-13b’. The expression of ex13-13b strongly correlated with proinsulin in glucose-stimulated pancreatic islets, suggesting a potential role for this form in the development of type 2 diabetes. The goal of this study was to further characterise this unique TCF7L2 splicing form in human tissues.
We used a panel of 34 human tissues and 80 human cell lines to measure the expression of assay ex13-13b with use of quantitative RT-PCR.
The highest expression of assay ex13-13b was detected in several areas of the brain (hypothalamus/thalamus, occipital lobe) and in neuronal cell line SHS5Y5. Low expression was confirmed in pancreatic islets, small intestine, pancreas and colon, while no expression was detected in other human tissues and cell lines. The expression of assay ex13-13b correlated with the gene for cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CART, also known as CARTPT) in a panel of human tissues (n = 12, r = 0.85, p = 0.00046), pancreatic islets (n = 23, r = 0.62, p = 0.0016) and colon (n = 98, r = 0.54, p < 0.0001).
The significant correlation between expression of a unique splicing form of TCF7L2, named here TCF7L2-NE, and CART, the gene for an anorexigenic neurohormone expressed in the central and peripheral nervous system, suggests that these transcripts may share neuroendocrine functions important for brain, gut and pancreatic islets.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00125-009-1640-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorised users.