Founder effect in the Horn of Africa for an insulin receptor mutation that may impair receptor recycling

E. Raffan, M. A. Soos, N. Rocha, A. Tuthill, A. R. Thomsen, C. S. Hyden, J. W. Gregory, P. Hindmarsh, M. Dattani, E. Cochran, J. Al Kaabi, P. Gorden, I. Barroso, N. Morling, S. O'Rahilly, R. K. Semple

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Aims/hypothesis: Genetic insulin receptoropathies are a rare cause of severe insulin resistance. We identified the Ile119Met missense mutation in the insulin receptor INSR gene, previously reported in a Yemeni kindred, in four unrelated patients with Somali ancestry. We aimed to investigate a possible genetic founder effect, and to study the mechanism of loss of function of the mutant receptor. Methods: Biochemical profiling and DNA haplotype analysis of affected patients were performed. Insulin receptor expression in lymphoblastoid cells from a homozygous p.Ile119Met INSR patient, and in cells heterologously expressing the mutant receptor, was examined. Insulin binding, insulin-stimulated receptor autophosphorylation, and cooperativity and pH dependency of insulin dissociation were also assessed. Results: All patients had biochemical profiles pathognomonic of insulin receptoropathy, while haplotype analysis revealed the putative shared region around the INSR mutant to be no larger than 28 kb. An increased insulin proreceptor to β subunit ratio was seen in patient-derived cells. Steady state insulin binding and insulin-stimulated autophosphorylation of the mutant receptor was normal; however it exhibited decreased insulin dissociation rates with preserved cooperativity, a difference accentuated at low pH. Conclusions/interpretation: The p.Ile119Met INSR appears to have arisen around the Horn of Africa, and should be sought first in severely insulin resistant patients with ancestry from this region. Despite collectively compelling genetic, clinical and biochemical evidence for its pathogenicity, loss of function in conventional in vitro assays is subtle, suggesting mildly impaired receptor recycling only.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1057-1065
Number of pages9
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2011


  • Africa
  • Diabetes
  • Genetics
  • Insulin receptor
  • Insulin resistance
  • Receptor recycling
  • Type A insulin resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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