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In the search for diabetes genes, the combined approaches of positional cloning with random markers and subsequent evaluation of candidate genes mapping to areas of interest will be increasingly used. For islet candidate genes of unknown function, expressed trinucleotide (triplet) repeats represent a unique subset. It is unlikely that abnormal expansion of expressed islet triplet repeats would be a major cause of diabetes, yet the triplet repeats are frequently polymorphic and can thus be used to map the genes in the human genome. In this study, a human islet cDNA library was screened with (CGG)7 and (CAG)7, and 23 triplet repeats were isolated. Sequencing revealed four known and six novel islet genes containing 4-15 triplet repeats. The four known cDNAs included ferritin, the major iron-binding protein in cells; HSGSA2R, a full-length clone of the alpha-subunit of the G-regulatory protein; HUMSATB1A, a DNA-binding protein expressed predominantly in thymus; and HUMPPA-PRO, a ribosomal protein. The triplet repeats in ferritin and HUMPPAPRO were found to be monomorphic. Characterization of the six unique novel expressed islet triplet cDNAs revealed that they were 0.6-1.5 kb in size, contained 4-15 triplet repeats, and were expressed in islets and all other tissues examined. Four of the novel clones, CGG-isl 10, CGG-isl 11, CAG-isl 6, and CAG-isl 7, were mapped to human chromosomes 19, 16, 12, and 3, respectively, via somatic cell hybrids. One islet cDNA, CAG-isl 7, contained a repeat that was highly polymorphic, with 14 alleles (4-18 triplets) in African-Americans (heterozygosity = 0.86) and 6 alleles (heterozygosity = 0.77) in whites. Northern analysis indicated that the mRNA was abundant in pancreatic islets. A putative full-length clone contained an open reading frame encoding 213 amino acids with a variable number of alanines (4-18) within the COOH-terminal. The gene was uniquely mapped with odds > 1,000:1 on chromosome 3p in Centre d'Etude du Polymorphisme Humain pedigrees. There were no differences in CAG-isl 7 allele frequencies between African-American patients with NIDDM (n = 108) and control subjects (n = 116), nor was expansion above 18 repeats noted. Linkage analysis in 14 nonglucokinase maturity-onset diabetes of the young pedigrees showed a cumulative logarithm of odds score of -33.19 at theta = 0.00. Abnormal expansion was not observed in 20 IDDM patients with one NIDDM parent. While these data suggest no major role for CAG-isl 7 in diabetes, at least four of the six novel islet triplet genes are coexpressed in pancreatic islets and neural tissue, and these genes can now be considered as candidates for diabetes and/or neuropsychiatric diseases.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





157 - 164


Amino Acid Sequence, Base Sequence, Chromosome Mapping, Chromosomes, Human, Pair 12, Chromosomes, Human, Pair 16, Chromosomes, Human, Pair 19, Chromosomes, Human, Pair 3, DNA Primers, DNA, Complementary, Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1, Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2, Gene Expression, Gene Frequency, Genetic Linkage, Humans, Islets of Langerhans, Molecular Sequence Data, RNA, Messenger, Trinucleotide Repeats