Diabetes Susceptibility in the Canadian Oji-Cree Population Is Moderated by Abnormal mRNA Processing of HNF1A G319S Transcripts
OBJECTIVE—The G319S HNF1A variant is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in the Canadian Oji-Cree population. We hypothesized that the variant site at the 3′ end of exon 4 might influence splicing and characterized mRNA transcripts to investigate the mutational mechanism underlying this susceptibility to diabetes.RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—We established lymphoblastoid cell lines from a G319S homozygote and controls. HNF1A transcripts were characterized in the cell lines and pancreatic tissue by sequence analysis of RT-PCR products and quantification using real-time PCR. Susceptibility to mRNA surveillance was investigated using cycloheximide.RESULTS—Full-length G319S mRNA accounted for 24% of mRNA transcripts in the homozygous G319S cell line. A novel isoform lacking the terminal 12 bases of exon 4 was upregulated (55% of mRNA transcripts) compared with control cell lines (33%) and human pancreatic tissue (17%). Two abnormal transcripts present only in the G319S cell line included premature termination codons as a result of the inclusion of seven nucleotides from intron 4 or the deletion of exon 8. Cycloheximide treatment increased the levels of both transcripts.CONCLUSIONS—The G319S variant results in the production of two abnormal transcripts and an alteration in the relative balance of normal splicing products. This is predicted to lead to a reduction in total HNF1A transcript levels, but residual hepatocyte nuclear factor-1α protein activity in G319S homozygotes may still reach up to 66% of normal levels. A combination of abnormal splicing and reduced activity of the G319S protein may explain the diabetes susceptibility.