Seven mutations in the hepatocyte nuclear factor (HNF)-4alpha gene have been shown to correlate with type 1 maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY 1), a monogenic form of type 2 diabetes. Up to now, only the functional properties of two MODY 1 HNF-4alpha mutants, Q268X and V393I, have been investigated to address how the mutations in the HNF-4alpha gene, found by genetic studies, can give rise to impaired activities of mutated HNF-4alpha proteins and can cause this disease. The E276Q mutation results in a nonconservative substitution occurring in the HNF-4alpha E domain, which is involved in dimerization and transactivation activities as well as in protein-protein interactions with other transcription factors or coactivators. Using the mutated human HNF-4alpha2, we have found that, in the absence of chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter transcription factor II (COUP TFII), the E276Q substitution does not significantly affect the dimerization and transactivating activities of HNF-4alpha, at least on the promoters studied herein. On the other hand, in the presence of COUP TFII, the substitution impairs the enhancement of HNF-4-mediated activation of HNF-1 promoter. The impaired synergy between COUP TFII and HNF-4 on the HNF-1 promoter results from an alteration of their interaction. HNF-1 expression plays a crucial role in transactivation of insulin promoter and of numerous genes coding for enzymes involved in glucose homeostasis. Therefore, its downregulation resulting from the E276Q mutation in HNF-4alpha gene most probably impairs the function of pancreatic beta-cells.

This content is only available via PDF.