Desperately Seeking a Diabetes Gene

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Science  06 Oct 2000:
Vol. 290, Issue 5489, pp. 13
DOI: 10.1126/science.290.5489.13a

Non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) affects 10–20% of people over age 45 in many developed countries, and it is increasing in incidence. An example of a complex trait, NIDDM is thought to arise from a combination of environmental and genetic factors, and the genetic contribution is likely to arise from several interacting genes, each carrying critical, yet subtle, alterations.

Undaunted by the complexity of their task, Horikawa et al. report progress in the search for genetic variations that influence the propensity to develop NIDDM. Using positional cloning methods, they found that specific polymorphisms in CAPN10, a chromosome 2 gene that encodes a widely expressed calpain-like cysteine protease, are associated with NIDDM in both Mexican-American and Finnish populations. Whether these genetic variations in CAPN10 are causal factors in the disease or merely co-segregating markers is unclear, but this question can now be addressed in clinical and laboratory studies. — PAK

Nature Genet.26, 163 (2000).

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