A cautionary tale: the non-causal association between type 2 diabetes risk SNP, rs7756992, and levels of non-coding RNA, CDKAL1-v1
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AIMS/HYPOTHESIS: Intronic single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the CDKAL1 gene are associated with risk of developing type 2 diabetes. A strong correlation between risk alleles and lower levels of the non-coding RNA, CDKAL1-v1, has recently been reported in whole blood extracted from Japanese individuals. We sought to replicate this association in two independent cohorts: one using whole blood from white UK-resident individuals, and one using a collection of human pancreatic islets, a more relevant tissue type to study with respect to the aetiology of diabetes. METHODS: Levels of CDKAL1-v1 were measured by real-time PCR using RNA extracted from human whole blood (n = 70) and human pancreatic islets (n = 48). Expression with respect to genotype was then determined. RESULTS: In a simple linear regression model, expression of CDKAL1-v1 was associated with the lead type 2 diabetes-associated SNP, rs7756992, in whole blood and islets. However, these associations were abolished or substantially reduced in multiple regression models taking into account rs9366357 genotype: a moderately linked SNP explaining a much larger amount of the variation in CDKAL1-v1 levels, but not strongly associated with risk of type 2 diabetes. CONCLUSIONS/INTERPRETATION: Contrary to previous findings, we provide evidence against a role for dysregulated expression of CDKAL1-v1 in mediating the association between intronic SNPs in CDKAL1 and susceptibility to type 2 diabetes. The results of this study illustrate how caution should be exercised when inferring causality from an association between disease-risk genotype and non-coding RNA expression.
This paper presents independent research funded by the Medical Research Council (grant number MR/J006777/1) and supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Exeter Clinical Research Facility. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Medical Research Council, UK National Health Service, NIHR or the UK Department of Health.
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Vol. 58 (4), pp. 745 - 748
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