To assess the possible role of glucokinase defects contributing to a genetic susceptibility to NIDDM in Japanese, allelic frequencies of two microsatellite repeat polymorphisms, one in the 3′-flanking region (GCK1) and the other in the 5′-flanking region (GCK2) of the human glucokinase gene, were analyzed in subjects with NIDDM and in nondiabetic control subjects. After typing 107 diabetic and 74 nondiabetic subjects, we found four GCK1 alleles (Z, Z2, Z4, Z6) and six GCK2 alleles (0, −4, −2, 2, 4, 8). The frequency distribution of GCK1 alleles was different between the two groups (P = 0.005), although not significant after correction for multiple comparisons. The Z4 allele was found more frequently in diabetic than in nondiabetic subjects (23 vs. 10%, P = 0.002). This was still significant after correction for multiple comparisons (P < 0.05). The frequency distribution of GCK2 alleles was not different between the two groups. However, the −2 allele was more common in diabetic than in nondiabetic subjects (P = 0.044), although not significant after adjusting for multiple comparisons. Clinical characteristics were compared between the diabetic subjects with Z4 and/or −2 allele and those without either of these two alleles. No differences were found in the age of diagnosis, positive family history, mode of therapy, current HbA1c, or daily urinary C-peptide immunoreactivity excretion between the two groups. We demonstrated a significant association between GCK1 and GCK2 alleles and NIDDM. The results indicate that the polymorphic alleles GCK1 and GCK2 could be genetic markers in NIDDM in Japanese, suggesting a relationship between glucokinase defects and the susceptibility to NIDDM in this population.

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