Maturity-onset diabetes of the young 3 (MODY3) is a type of NIDDM caused by mutations in the transcription factor hepatocyte nuclear factor-1a (HNF-1α) located on chromosome 12q. We have identified four novel HNF-1α missense mutations in M0DY3 families. In four additional and unrelated families, we observed an identical insertion mutation that had occurred in a polycytidine tract in exon 4. Among those families, one exhibited a de novo mutation at this location. We propose that instability of this sequence represents a general mutational mechanism in M0DY3. We observed no HNF-1α mutations among 86 unrelated late-onset diabetic patients with relative insulin deficiency. Hence mutations in this gene appear to be most strongly associated with early-onset diabetes.

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