Insights Into the Molecular Mechanism for Type 2 Diabetes Susceptibility at the KCNQ1 Locus From Temporal Changes in Imprinting Status in Human Islets

  1. Anna L. Gloyn1,6
  1. 1Oxford Centre for Diabetes Endocrinology & Metabolism, University of Oxford, Oxford, U.K.;
  2. 2Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton, U.K.;
  3. 3Lund University Diabetes Centre, Malmö, Sweden;
  4. 4Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, U.K.
  5. 5Endocrinology and Diabetes, Faculty of Medical & Human Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, U.K.;
  6. 6Oxford NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, Churchill Hospital, Oxford, U.K.;
  7. 7Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, U.K
  1. Corresponding author: Anna L. Gloyn, anna.gloyn{at}


The molecular basis of type 2 diabetes predisposition at most established susceptibility loci remains poorly understood. KCNQ1 maps within the 11p15.5 imprinted domain, a region with an established role in congenital growth phenotypes. Variants intronic to KCNQ1 influence diabetes susceptibility when maternally inherited. By use of quantitative PCR and pyrosequencing of human adult islet and fetal pancreas samples, we investigated the imprinting status of regional transcripts and aimed to determine whether type 2 diabetes risk alleles influence regional DNA methylation and gene expression. The results demonstrate that gene expression patterns differ by developmental stage. CDKN1C showed monoallelic expression in both adult and fetal tissue, whereas PHLDA2, SLC22A18, and SLC22A18AS were biallelically expressed in both tissues. Temporal changes in imprinting were observed for KCNQ1 and KCNQ1OT1, with monoallelic expression in fetal tissues and biallelic expression in adult samples. Genotype at the type 2 diabetes risk variant rs2237895 influenced methylation levels of regulatory sequence in fetal pancreas but without demonstrable effects on gene expression. We demonstrate that CDKN1C, KCNQ1, and KCNQ1OT1 are most likely to mediate diabetes susceptibility at the KCNQ1 locus and identify temporal differences in imprinting status and methylation effects, suggesting that diabetes risk effects may be mediated in early development.


  • Received June 19, 2012.
  • Accepted August 19, 2012.

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