, Volume 52, Issue 5, pp 850-854
Date: 27 Feb 2009

Unique splicing pattern of the TCF7L2 gene in human pancreatic islets

Abstract

Aims/hypothesis

Intronic variation in the TCF7L2 gene exhibits the strongest association to type 2 diabetes observed to date, but the mechanism whereby this genetic variation translates into altered biological function is largely unknown. A possible explanation is a genotype-dependent difference in the complex splicing pattern; however, this has not previously been characterised in pancreatic or insulin target tissues. Here, the detailed TCF7L2 splicing pattern in five human tissues is described and dependence on risk genotype explored.

Methods

RT-PCR and quantitative real-time PCR were employed to characterise TCF7L2 splicing in pancreatic islets, blood lymphocytes, skeletal muscle and subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue from non-diabetic individuals.

Results

The mapping of TCF7L2 splice variants shows a specific pattern in pancreatic islets, with four predominant transcripts and high usage of the variable exons 4 and 15. The overall concentration of TCF7L2 mRNA is highest in islets and fat and lower in blood and muscle. No significant difference in overall amount or splicing pattern was observed between carriers and non-carriers of the rs7903146 risk (T) allele. However, incorporation of exon 4 in islets correlates positively with plasma HbA1c levels (r = 0.758; p = 0.018).

Conclusions/interpretation

There were pronounced tissue-specific differences in the splicing of TCF7L2 with forms containing exon 4 and 15 being most abundant in islets. The incorporation of exon 4 in islets correlated with HbA1c levels. Further experiments will be needed to determine the direction of this correlation, and larger cohorts needed to unequivocally resolve whether there is a relationship between genotype and splicing in islets.

P. Osmark and O. Hansson contributed equally to this study.