Many studies suggest that amylin, which is cosecreted with insulin from islet β-cells, is a biologically active peptide and modulates plasma glucose levels. We therefore scanned the amylin gene for mutations in 294 Japanese NIDDM patients by single-strand conformational polymorphism, and we found a single heterozygous missense mutation (Ser→Gly at position 20: S20G mutation) in 12 NIDDM patients (frequency 4.1%). None of the 187 nondiabetic subjects or 59 IDDM patients had the mutation. Of 12 patients carrying the mutation, 8 were diagnosed as having NIDDM at a relatively early age (≤35 years), and they had severe diabetes and strong family histories of late-onset NIDDM. On the other hand, the remaining four patients were diagnosed as having NIDDM after age 51, and they had mild diabetes without family histories of diabetes. In high-performance liquid chromatography analysis, a small amount (16%) of amylin immunoreactivity appeared in the position corresponding to normal amylin and a much larger amount (84%) appeared in the position corresponding to mutant amylin. These findings suggest that the S20G mutation of the amylin gene may play a partial role in the pathogenesis of early-onset NIDDM in the Japanese population and may also provide an important model to investigate the true physiological action of amylin.

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