Resistance to insulin action is a well-established feature of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) and is believed to contribute to the etiology of this condition. A strong genetic contribution to the etiology of NIDDM exists, and we previously identified an insulin-receptor gene restriction-fragment–length polymorphism (RFLP) associated with the NIDDM phenotype. In an attempt to elucidate whether structural defects in the insulin receptor could be a primary cause of insulin resistance in NIDDM, we analyzed the insulin-receptor cDNA sequence in a subject with NIDDM who is also homozygous for this RFLP. The insulin-receptor cDNA was sequenced with the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). mRNA from transformed lymphocytes was reverse transcribed and amplified with five overlapping sets of primers that span the coding sequence of both α- and β-subunits. No difference was found in the predicted amino acid sequence of the subject's insulin receptor compared with the normal insulin receptor. At nucleotide positions 831 and 2247, the subject is heterozygous for silent nucleotide polymorphisms that do not affect the amino acid sequence. Exon 11 encodes a 12–amino acid insert in the α-subunit, which, due to alternate splicing, is not expressed in lymphocyte insulin-receptor mRNA. Consequently, exon 11 was amplified from genomic DNA by PCR; the sequence of exon 11 was found to be normal. In addition, when this patient's transformed lymphocytes were maintained in culture, no abnormalities in insulin binding were observed. We conclude that the insulin resistance seen in this NIDDM subject is not due to a structural alteration in the insulin receptor itself. Consequently, the RFLP for which this patient is homozygous is not associated with a coding-sequence abnormality in the insulin-receptor gene.

This content is only available via PDF.