Two genes that cause maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY) have been identified by a team headquartered at the University of Chicago.
Type 2 or non-insulin-dependent diabetes normally strikes after age 40, but MODY strikes before age 25, often during adolescence. MODY affects fewer than one in five of the 15 million Americans with Type 2 diabetes.
The team reported in the Dec. 5 issue Nature that both genes are so-called transcription factors, genes that control how and when other genes are turned on and off. "This surprising finding means that we have to quit thinking of diabetes purely as a defect in glucose metabolism and start thinking of it as possibly a defect in gene expression," said molecular biologist Graeme Bell of Chicago.