Association of a polymorphism in the betacellulin gene with type 1 diabetes mellitus in two populations

Kristi D. Silver, Victoria L. Magnuson, Magdalena Tolea, Jian Wang, William A. Hagopian, Braxton D. Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Betacellulin, a member of the epidermal growth factor family, is expressed in fetal and adult pancreas. In vitro and in vivo studies suggest a role for betacellulin in islet neogenesis and regeneration. Therefore, a mutation in the betacellulin gene might lead to fewer beta cells. With reduced beta cell reserve, beta cells may not be able to compensate for an autoimmune attack, and in turn, susceptibility to type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) would increase. Previous mutational analysis identified seven polymorphisms in the betacellulin gene [5′ UT (-233G>C, -226A>G), exon 1 (TGC19GGC, Cys7Gly), exon 2 (CTC130TTC, Leu44Phe), exon 4 (TTG370ATG, Leu124Met), intron 2 (-31T>C), and intron 4 (-4C>T)]. An association study of these variants with T1DM was first carried out in 100 Caucasian subjects with T1DM and 282 Caucasian subjects without diabetes recruited at the University of Maryland. The frequency of the intron 4 T-4 allele was significantly higher among nondiabetic controls than that among diabetic cases (0.29 vs 0.21, p=0.04). Allele frequencies for the other polymorphisms did not differ significantly between cases and controls. The intron 4 T-4 association was then replicated by transmission disequilibrium testing in a separate population of Caucasian parent/offspring with T1DM trios (n=168 trios, 113 informative) recruited at the Medical College of Wisconsin (p=0.024). An interaction of the intron 4 T-4 allele and human leukocyte antigen (HLA) was also detected with undertransmission of the T allele in those T1DM subjects with susceptible HLA types as compared to those T1DM subjects without susceptible HLA types (p=0.018). RNA studies of the intron T-4 variant showed similar RNA levels for intron 4 T-4 and intron 4 C-4 alleles. Additionally, there was no evidence for an effect of this variant on exon-intron splicing. We conclude that the intron 4 T-4 allele in the betacellulin gene is associated with lower risk of T1DM and may interact with HLA. Further studies will be necessary to establish the significance of this association.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)616-623
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Molecular Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Genetics
  • Pancreas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Drug Discovery
  • Genetics(clinical)


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