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June 20, 2000

Genetics and Heredity

Question from Carlisle, Pennsylvania, USA:

I was just wondering if they have found out which gene is responsible for diabetes. If they have, I would really appreciate knowing which one or if you could lead me in the right direction to find it.


From: DTeam Staff

Different forms of diabetes mellitus show different genetic patterns. In Type�1A or autoimmune diabetes, which is the commonest form in Caucasian children in North America, there is a genetically determined susceptibility to the disorder which has to be triggered by a so far unknown environmental component before insulin dependent clinical diabetes can develop. The several alleles that determine this predisposition are located in the Main Histocompatability Complex (MHC) region on the short arm of chromosome 6. Other loci on chromosomes 2, 11, 15 and 18 may also play a role. A more detailed description of all of this together with many references can be found in Chapter 7 of George Eisenbarth and Kevin Lafferty’s book on Type 1 diabetes which you can find at www.uchsc.edu/misc/diabetes/oxch7.html. The text is somewhat technical though, so be prepared.