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1.  Hyperglycemia and a Common Variant of GCKR Are Associated With the Levels of Eight Amino Acids in 9,369 Finnish Men 
Diabetes  2012;61(7):1895-1902.
We investigated the association of glycemia and 43 genetic risk variants for hyperglycemia/type 2 diabetes with amino acid levels in the population-based Metabolic Syndrome in Men (METSIM) Study, including 9,369 nondiabetic or newly diagnosed type 2 diabetic Finnish men. Plasma levels of eight amino acids were measured with proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Increasing fasting and 2-h plasma glucose levels were associated with increasing levels of several amino acids and decreasing levels of histidine and glutamine. Alanine, leucine, isoleucine, tyrosine, and glutamine predicted incident type 2 diabetes in a 4.7-year follow-up of the METSIM Study, and their effects were largely mediated by insulin resistance (except for glutamine). We also found significant correlations between insulin sensitivity (Matsuda insulin sensitivity index) and mRNA expression of genes regulating amino acid degradation in 200 subcutaneous adipose tissue samples. Only 1 of 43 risk single nucleotide polymorphisms for type 2 diabetes or hyperglycemia, the glucose-increasing major C allele of rs780094 of GCKR, was significantly associated with decreased levels of alanine and isoleucine and elevated levels of glutamine. In conclusion, the levels of branched-chain, aromatic amino acids and alanine increased and the levels of glutamine and histidine decreased with increasing glycemia, reflecting, at least in part, insulin resistance. Only one single nucleotide polymorphism regulating hyperglycemia was significantly associated with amino acid levels.
PMCID: PMC3379649  PMID: 22553379
2.  Effects of 34 Risk Loci for Type 2 Diabetes or Hyperglycemia on Lipoprotein Subclasses and Their Composition in 6,580 Nondiabetic Finnish Men 
Diabetes  2011;60(5):1608-1616.
We investigated the effects of 34 genetic risk variants for hyperglycemia/type 2 diabetes on lipoprotein subclasses and particle composition in a large population-based cohort.
The study included 6,580 nondiabetic Finnish men from the population-based Metabolic Syndrome in Men (METSIM) study (aged 57 ± 7 years; BMI 26.8 ± 3.7 kg/m2). Genotyping of 34 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs) for hyperglycemia/type 2 diabetes was performed. Proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy was used to measure particle concentrations of 14 lipoprotein subclasses and their composition in native serum samples.
The glucose-increasing allele of rs780094 in GCKR was significantly associated with low concentrations of VLDL particles (independently of their size) and small LDL and was nominally associated with low concentrations of intermediate-density lipoprotein, all LDL subclasses, and high concentrations of very large and large HDL particles. The glucose-increasing allele of rs174550 in FADS1 was significantly associated with high concentrations of very large and large HDL particles and nominally associated with low concentrations of all VLDL particles. SNPs rs10923931 in NOTCH2 and rs757210 in HNF1B genes showed nominal or significant associations with several lipoprotein traits. The genetic risk score of 34 SNPs was not associated with any of the lipoprotein subclasses.
Four of the 34 risk loci for type 2 diabetes or hyperglycemia (GCKR, FADS1, NOTCH2, and HNF1B) were significantly associated with lipoprotein traits. A GCKR variant predominantly affected the concentration of VLDL, and the FADS1 variant affected very large and large HDL particles. Only a limited number of risk loci for hyperglycemia/type 2 diabetes significantly affect lipoprotein metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3292337  PMID: 21421807
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.  Detailed Physiologic Characterization Reveals Diverse Mechanisms for Novel Genetic Loci Regulating Glucose and Insulin Metabolism in Humans 
Diabetes  2010;59(5):1266-1275.
Recent genome-wide association studies have revealed loci associated with glucose and insulin-related traits. We aimed to characterize 19 such loci using detailed measures of insulin processing, secretion, and sensitivity to help elucidate their role in regulation of glucose control, insulin secretion and/or action.
We investigated associations of loci identified by the Meta-Analyses of Glucose and Insulin-related traits Consortium (MAGIC) with circulating proinsulin, measures of insulin secretion and sensitivity from oral glucose tolerance tests (OGTTs), euglycemic clamps, insulin suppression tests, or frequently sampled intravenous glucose tolerance tests in nondiabetic humans (n = 29,084).
The glucose-raising allele in MADD was associated with abnormal insulin processing (a dramatic effect on higher proinsulin levels, but no association with insulinogenic index) at extremely persuasive levels of statistical significance (P = 2.1 × 10−71). Defects in insulin processing and insulin secretion were seen in glucose-raising allele carriers at TCF7L2, SCL30A8, GIPR, and C2CD4B. Abnormalities in early insulin secretion were suggested in glucose-raising allele carriers at MTNR1B, GCK, FADS1, DGKB, and PROX1 (lower insulinogenic index; no association with proinsulin or insulin sensitivity). Two loci previously associated with fasting insulin (GCKR and IGF1) were associated with OGTT-derived insulin sensitivity indices in a consistent direction.
Genetic loci identified through their effect on hyperglycemia and/or hyperinsulinemia demonstrate considerable heterogeneity in associations with measures of insulin processing, secretion, and sensitivity. Our findings emphasize the importance of detailed physiological characterization of such loci for improved understanding of pathways associated with alterations in glucose homeostasis and eventually type 2 diabetes.
PMCID: PMC2857908  PMID: 20185807
5.  Heritable Individual-Specific and Allele-Specific Chromatin Signatures in Humans 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2010;328(5975):235-239.
The extent to which variation in chromatin structure and transcription factor binding may influence gene expression, and thus underlie or contribute to variation in phenotype, is unknown. To address this question, we cataloged both individual-to-individual variation and differences between homologous chromosomes within the same individual (allele-specific variation) in chromatin structure and transcription factor binding in lymphoblastoid cells derived from individuals of geographically diverse ancestry. Ten percent of active chromatin sites were individual-specific; a similar proportion were allele-specific. Both individual-specific and allele-specific sites were commonly transmitted from parent to child, which suggests that they are heritable features of the human genome. Our study shows that heritable chromatin status and transcription factor binding differ as a result of genetic variation and may underlie phenotypic variation in humans.
PMCID: PMC2929018  PMID: 20299549
6.  Common variants at 30 loci contribute to polygenic dyslipidemia 
Nature genetics  2008;41(1):56-65.
Blood low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and triglyceride levels are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. To dissect the polygenic basis of these traits, we conducted genome-wide association screens in 19,840 individuals and replication in up to 20,623 individuals. We identified 30 distinct loci associated with lipoprotein concentrations (each with P < 5 × 10-8), including 11 loci that reached genome-wide significance for the first time. The 11 newly defined loci include common variants associated with LDL cholesterol near ABCG8, MAFB, HNF1A and TIMD4; with HDL cholesterol near ANGPTL4, FADS1-FADS2-FADS3, HNF4A, LCAT, PLTP and TTC39B; and with triglycerides near AMAC1L2, FADS1-FADS2-FADS3 and PLTP. The proportion of individuals exceeding clinical cut points for high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol and high triglycerides varied according to an allelic dosage score (P < 10-15 for each trend). These results suggest that the cumulative effect of multiple common variants contributes to polygenic dyslipidemia.
PMCID: PMC2881676  PMID: 19060906
7.  Genetic evidence that raised sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) levels reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes 
Human Molecular Genetics  2009;19(3):535-544.
Epidemiological studies consistently show that circulating sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) levels are lower in type 2 diabetes patients than non-diabetic individuals, but the causal nature of this association is controversial. Genetic studies can help dissect causal directions of epidemiological associations because genotypes are much less likely to be confounded, biased or influenced by disease processes. Using this Mendelian randomization principle, we selected a common single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) near the SHBG gene, rs1799941, that is strongly associated with SHBG levels. We used data from this SNP, or closely correlated SNPs, in 27 657 type 2 diabetes patients and 58 481 controls from 15 studies. We then used data from additional studies to estimate the difference in SHBG levels between type 2 diabetes patients and controls. The SHBG SNP rs1799941 was associated with type 2 diabetes [odds ratio (OR) 0.94, 95% CI: 0.91, 0.97; P = 2 × 10−5], with the SHBG raising allele associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. This effect was very similar to that expected (OR 0.92, 95% CI: 0.88, 0.96), given the SHBG-SNP versus SHBG levels association (SHBG levels are 0.2 standard deviations higher per copy of the A allele) and the SHBG levels versus type 2 diabetes association (SHBG levels are 0.23 standard deviations lower in type 2 diabetic patients compared to controls). Results were very similar in men and women. There was no evidence that this variant is associated with diabetes-related intermediate traits, including several measures of insulin secretion and resistance. Our results, together with those from another recent genetic study, strengthen evidence that SHBG and sex hormones are involved in the aetiology of type 2 diabetes.
PMCID: PMC2798726  PMID: 19933169

Results 1-7 (7)