We investigated the prevalence of mutations in the gene encoding the major insulin-responsive facilitative glucose transporter (GLUT4) in patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). All 11 exons of the GLUT4 gene from 30 British white subjects with NIDDM were amplified using the polymerase chain reaction and screened for nucleotide sequence variation using the single-stranded conformation polymorphism (SSCP) method. No variation between the study subjects was detected in exons 1–3, 4b–8, and 10. Variant SSCP patterns were detected in exons 4a and 9. SSCP variation in exon 4a was revealed by direct nucleotide sequencing to be due to a common silent polymorphism (AAC→AAT at Asn130). One NIDDM patient demonstrated a variant SSCP pattern in exon 9. This was caused by a point mutation (GTC→ATC) at codon 383, which leads to the conservative substitution of isoleucine for valine in the putative fifth extracellular loop of the transporter. Allele-specific oligonucleotide hybridization was used to examine the frequency of this mutation in 240 Welsh white subjects (160 with NIDDM and 80 controls). The Val→lle383 mutation was found in the heterozygous state in two diabetic subjects and no control subjects. We conclude that mutations of the GLUT4 coding sequence are very uncommon in this population of subjects with typical NIDDM. Determining whether the lle383 GLUT4 variant present in 3 diabetic subjects contributes in any way to their disease will require further study.

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