A novel missense mutation in the signal peptide of the human POMC gene: A possible additional link between early-onset type 2 diabetes and obesity

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Rare mutations in several genes have a critical role in the control of homeostatic mechanisms such as food-intake, energy balance and glucose metabolism. In this study, we performed a mutational screening in a 58-year-old woman presenting early-onset type 2 diabetes and central obesity. The entire coding regions of MC4R, MC3R, HNF1A, GCK and POMC (pro-opiomelanocortin) genes were analyzed by direct sequencing. A new missense mutation was identified within the POMC gene signal peptide sequence, resulting in a heterozygous substitution of an arginine for a glycine at codon 15 (p.A15G) that was excluded in 300 healthy normal weight controls. The mutation segregated in the family and was associated with overweight, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and coronary heart disease in the carriers. Functional studies demonstrated that POMC protein was not detectable in β-TC3 cells transfected with A15G-POMC vector as well as in their culture media, despite POMC mRNA levels were comparable for amount and stability to those of wild-type-transfected cells. In silico RNA folding prediction indicated that the mutation gives rise to a different RNA secondary structure, suggesting that it might affect translation and protein synthesis. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report addressing the functional consequences of a mutation in the signal peptide of POMC. These findings further support the hypothesis that POMC-derived peptides might have a role in the control of peripheral glucose metabolism and suggest that disruption of central POMC secretion might represent an additional link between type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1290-1294
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Human Genetics
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012



  • diabetes
  • obesity
  • POMC gene
  • pro-opiomelanocortin
  • RNA folding
  • signal peptide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Genetics

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