Recent studies have shown that mutations in the hepatocyte nuclear factor (HNF)-1α gene are the cause of maturity-onset diabetes of the young type 3 (MODY3). We have screened 193 unrelated Japanese subjects with NIDDM for mutations in this gene: 83 with early-onset NIDDM (diagnosis at <30 years of age) and 110 with late-onset NIDDM (diagnosis >30 years of age). All of the members of the latter group also had at least one sibling with NIDDM. The 10 exons, flanking introns, and promoter region were amplified using polymerase chain reaction and were sequenced directly. Mutations were found in 7 of the 83 (8%) unrelated subjects with early-onset NIDDM. The mutations were each different and included four missense mutations (L12H, R131Q, K205Q, and R263C) and three frameshift mutations (P379fsdelCT, T392fsdelA, and L584S585fsinsTC). One of the 110 subjects with late-onset NIDDM was heterozygous for the missense mutation G191D. This subject, who was diagnosed with NIDDM at 64 years of age, also had a brother with NIDDM (age at diagnosis, 54 years) who carried the same mutation, suggesting that this mutation contributed to the development of NIDDM in these two siblings. None of these mutations were present in 50 unrelated subjects with normal glucose tolerance (100 normal chromosomes). Mutations in the HNF-1α gene occur in Japanese subjects with NIDDM and appear to be an important cause of early-onset NIDDM in this population. In addition, they are present in about 1% of subjects with late-onset NIDDM.

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