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1.  Insights Into the Pathogenicity of Rare Missense GCK Variants From the Identification and Functional Characterization of Compound Heterozygous and Double Mutations Inherited in Cis 
Diabetes Care  2012;35(7):1482-1484.
To demonstrate the importance of using a combined genetic and functional approach to correctly interpret a genetic test for monogenic diabetes.
We identified three probands with a phenotype consistent with maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY) subtype GCK-MODY, in whom two potential pathogenic mutations were identified: [R43H/G68D], [E248 K/I225M], or [G261R/D217N]. Allele-specific PCR and cosegregation were used to determine phase. Single and double mutations were kinetically characterized.
The mutations occurred in cis (double mutants) in two probands and in trans in one proband. Functional studies of all double mutants revealed inactivating kinetics. The previously reported GCK-MODY mutations R43H and G68D were inherited from an affected father and unaffected mother, respectively. Both our functional and genetic studies support R43H as the cause of GCK-MODY and G68D as a neutral rare variant.
These data highlight the need for family/functional studies, even for previously reported pathogenic mutations.
PMCID: PMC3379612  PMID: 22611063
2.  Identification and Functional Characterisation of Novel Glucokinase Mutations Causing Maturity-Onset Diabetes of the Young in Slovakia 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e34541.
Heterozygous glucokinase (GCK) mutations cause a subtype of maturity-onset diabetes of the young (GCK-MODY). Over 600 GCK mutations have been reported of which ∼65% are missense. In many cases co-segregation has not been established and despite the importance of functional studies in ascribing pathogenicity for missense variants these have only been performed for <10% of mutations. The aim of this study was to determine the minimum prevalence of GCK-MODY amongst diabetic subjects in Slovakia by sequencing GCK in 100 Slovakian probands with a phenotype consistent with GCK-MODY and to explore the pathogenicity of identified variants through family and functional studies.
Twenty-two mutations were identified in 36 families (17 missense) of which 7 (I110N, V200A, N204D, G258R, F419S, c.580-2A>C, c.1113–1114delGC) were novel. Parental DNA was available for 22 probands (covering 14/22 mutations) and co-segregation established in all cases. Bioinformatic analysis predicted all missense mutations to be damaging. Nine (I110N, V200A, N204D, G223S, G258R, F419S, V244G, L315H, I436N) mutations were functionally evaluated. Basic kinetic analysis explained pathogenicity for 7 mutants which showed reduced glucokinase activity with relative activity indices (RAI) between 0.6 to <0.001 compared to wild-type GCK (1.0). For the remaining 2 mutants additional molecular mechanisms were investigated. Differences in glucokinase regulatory protein (GKRP) –mediated-inhibition of GCK were observed for both L315H & I436N when compared to wild type (IC50 14.6±0.1 mM & 20.3±1.6 mM vs.13.3±0.1 mM respectively [p<0.03]). Protein instability as assessed by thermal lability studies demonstrated that both L315H and I436N show marked thermal instability compared to wild-type GCK (RAI at 55°C 8.8±0.8% & 3.1±0.4% vs. 42.5±3.9% respectively [p<0.001]). The minimum prevalence of GCK-MODY amongst Slovakian patients with diabetes was 0.03%.
In conclusion, we have identified 22 GCK mutations in 36 Slovakian probands and demonstrate that combining family, bioinformatic and functional studies can aid the interpretation of variants identified by molecular diagnostic screening.
PMCID: PMC3321013  PMID: 22493702
3.  Correlation of rare coding variants in the gene encoding human glucokinase regulatory protein with phenotypic, cellular, and kinetic outcomes 
Defining the genetic contribution of rare variants to common diseases is a major basic and clinical science challenge that could offer new insights into disease etiology and provide potential for directed gene- and pathway-based prevention and treatment. Common and rare nonsynonymous variants in the GCKR gene are associated with alterations in metabolic traits, most notably serum triglyceride levels. GCKR encodes glucokinase regulatory protein (GKRP), a predominantly nuclear protein that inhibits hepatic glucokinase (GCK) and plays a critical role in glucose homeostasis. The mode of action of rare GCKR variants remains unexplored. We identified 19 nonsynonymous GCKR variants among 800 individuals from the ClinSeq medical sequencing project. Excluding the previously described common missense variant p.Pro446Leu, all variants were rare in the cohort. Accordingly, we functionally characterized all variants to evaluate their potential phenotypic effects. Defects were observed for the majority of the rare variants after assessment of cellular localization, ability to interact with GCK, and kinetic activity of the encoded proteins. Comparing the individuals with functional rare variants to those without such variants showed associations with lipid phenotypes. Our findings suggest that, while nonsynonymous GCKR variants, excluding p.Pro446Leu, are rare in individuals of mixed European descent, the majority do affect protein function. In sum, this study utilizes computational, cell biological, and biochemical methods to present a model for interpreting the clinical significance of rare genetic variants in common disease.
PMCID: PMC3248284  PMID: 22182842
4.  The P446L variant in GCKR associated with fasting plasma glucose and triglyceride levels exerts its effect through increased glucokinase activity in liver 
Human Molecular Genetics  2009;18(21):4081-4088.
Genome-wide association studies have identified a number of signals for both Type 2 Diabetes and related quantitative traits. For the majority of loci, the transition from association signal to mutational mechanism has been difficult to establish. Glucokinase (GCK) regulates glucose storage and disposal in the liver where its activity is regulated by glucokinase regulatory protein (GKRP; gene name GCKR). Fructose-6 and fructose-1 phosphate (F6P and F1P) enhance or reduce GKRP-mediated inhibition, respectively. A common GCKR variant (P446L) is reproducibly associated with triglyceride and fasting plasma glucose levels in the general population. The aim of this study was to determine the mutational mechanism responsible for this genetic association. Recombinant human GCK and both human wild-type (WT) and P446L-GKRP proteins were generated. GCK kinetic activity was observed spectrophotometrically using an NADP+-coupled assay. WT and P446L-GKRP-mediated inhibition of GCK activity and subsequent regulation by phosphate esters were determined. Assays matched for GKRP activity demonstrated no difference in dose-dependent inhibition of GCK activity or F1P-mediated regulation. However, the response to physiologically relevant F6P levels was significantly attenuated with P446L-GKRP (n = 18; P ≤ 0.03). Experiments using equimolar concentrations of both regulatory proteins confirmed these findings (n = 9; P < 0.001). In conclusion, P446L-GKRP has reduced regulation by physiological concentrations of F6P, resulting indirectly in increased GCK activity. Altered GCK regulation in liver is predicted to enhance glycolytic flux, promoting hepatic glucose metabolism and elevating concentrations of malonyl-CoA, a substrate for de novo lipogenesis, providing a mutational mechanism for the reported association of this variant with raised triglycerides and lower glucose levels.
PMCID: PMC2758140  PMID: 19643913

Results 1-4 (4)