Detection of mutations in the insulin receptor gene in patients with insulin resistance by analysis of single-stranded conformational polymorphisms
Mutations in the insulin receptor gene can render the cell resistant to the biological action of insulin. We have studied a patient with leprechaunism (leprechaun/Minn-1), a genetic syndrome associated with intrauterine growth retardation and extreme insulin resistance. Genomic DNA from the patient was amplified by the polymerase chain reaction catalyzed by Thermus aquaticus (Taq) DNA polymerase, and the amplified DNA was directly sequenced. A nonsense mutation was identified at codon 897 in exon 14 in the paternal allele of the patient's insulin receptor gene. Levels of insulin receptor mRNA are decreased to less than 10% of normal in Epstein-Barr virus-transformed lymphoblasts and cultured skin fibroblasts from this patient. Thus, this nonsense mutation appears to cause a decrease in the levels of insulin receptor mRNA. In addition, we have obtained indirect evidence that the patient's maternal allele of the insulin receptor gene contains a cis-acting dominant mutation that also decreases the level of mRNA, but by a different mechanism. The nucleotide sequence of the entire protein-coding domain and the sequences of the intron-exon boundaries for all 22 exons of the maternal allele were normal. Presumably, the mutation in the maternal allele maps elsewhere in the insulin receptor gene. Thus, we conclude that the patient is a compound heterozygote for two cis-acting dominant mutations in the insulin receptor gene: (i) a nonsense mutation in the paternal allele that reduces the level of insulin receptor mRNA and (ii) an as yet unidentified mutation in the maternal allele that either decreases the rate of transcription or decreases the stability of the mRNA.