We used the recently described technique of single-stranded conformation-polymorphism (SSCP) analysis to examine the insulin-receptor locus. First, the ability of the method to detect known mutations and polymorphisms in the insulin-receptor coding sequence was assessed. Regions of the insulin-receptor sequence containing 16 different nucleotide changes, 9 in patient genomic DNA and 7 as cloned cDNA in plasmids, were analyzed. All 9 patient genomic DNA mutants and 5 of 7 plasmid mutants exhibited variant SSCP patterns. To investigate the potential of the technique for screening many patients, the 5 exons that encode the tyrosine kinase domain of the insulin receptor were examined in 30 unrelated white subjects with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). Exons 17–21 were amplified from genomic DNA with polymerase chain reaction and subjected to SSCP analysis. Exons 19, 20, and 21 revealed no bands of aberrant migration, suggesting a high degree of conservation of these sequences. One diabetic subject had an SSCP variant in exon 18. Direct sequencing of this subject's genomic DNA revealed a heterozygous missense mutation (Lys1068 → Glu1068). Five different SSCP patterns were detected in exon 17. Based on direct sequencing, these patterns were explained by combinations of three different nucleotide substitutions, two of which were common silent polymorphisms. One subject had a heterozygous missense mutation Val985 → Met985. Allele-specific oligonucleotide hybridization confirmed the presence of these mutations in the appropriate diabetic subjects and also detected the Val985 mutation in heterozygous form in 1 of 13 nondiabetic white subjects. SSCP analysis is a sensitive rapid method for screening for mutations in the insulin-receptor gene. Using SSCP, we detected two previously unreported amino acid substitutions in the highly conserved tyrosine kinase domain of the insulin receptor. These represent the first potentially significant mutations found by screening candidate genes in NIDDM. The detection of one of these variants in a normoglycemic subject suggests that it is unlikely to cause the diabetic state, but given the complex genetic basis for NIDDM, a possible contributory role of each of these mutations mandates further study.

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