Molecular screening and association studies of retinoid-related orphan receptor gamma (RORC): a positional and functional candidate for type 2 diabetes

Mol Genet Metab. 2003 Jul;79(3):176-82. doi: 10.1016/s1096-7192(03)00096-9.


The retinoid-related orphan receptor gamma (RORC) is a member of the nuclear hormone superfamily which maps to the 1q21-q23 region. Linkage of type 2 diabetes (T2DM) to this region is well replicated. Several factors argue that RORC is a strong candidate for T2DM susceptibility within this region. RORC may form heterodimers with peroxisome-proliferator activated receptor gamma, it is expressed at high levels in skeletal muscle, and expression is induced in adipocytes during differentiation. To test the hypothesis that sequence variation in RORC is a risk factor for T2DM, we screened approximately 21kb of DNA for sequence variation, including 11 exons of the RORC gene, a region 1-kb upstream (5' flanking region), intronic regions flanking the exons, and the entire 3' untranslated region (UTR). Screening was performed using single strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) analysis in Caucasian individuals of northern European ancestry and in African American individuals. We detected 11 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), ranging from the promoter region to intron 10. We also confirmed 2 SNPs from public databases that were in regions not included in our screening. Only 1 SNP was nonsynonymous, resulting in Ala to Gly at residue 464 (exon 10). All other SNPs were noncoding. One SNP (intron 3) was unique to Caucasians, and three SNPs (Ala464Gly, intron 2, intron 6) were specific to African American subjects. We typed 7 SNPs spanning the gene from the promoter to 3' UTR in unrelated cases with T2DM and controls of Northern European ancestry. We also tested linkage of a microsatellite within the RORC gene. Modest evidence for linkage (LOD=1.47) was seen on two-point analysis, but no linkage to the RORC region was found on multipoint analysis. However, transmission of the microsatellite alleles from parents to affected offspring showed a trend to deviate from the expected 50% (p=0.078). No association of any other SNP with T2DM was found, but the Ala454Gly variant was 3-fold more common among African American patients with diabetes than in controls. SNPs 1, 2 and 4 were in strong linkage disequilibrium (D>0.85) and may constitute a haplotype block. Our data suggest that RORC cannot explain the linkage of T2DM in this region. The role of the unusual Ala454Gly variant will require a much larger study size to evaluate.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Black or African American
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • DNA
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / genetics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linkage Disequilibrium
  • Male
  • Mutation
  • Nuclear Receptor Subfamily 1, Group F, Member 3
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Polymorphism, Single-Stranded Conformational
  • Receptors, Retinoic Acid / genetics*
  • Receptors, Thyroid Hormone / genetics*
  • Sequence Analysis
  • White People


  • Blood Glucose
  • Nuclear Receptor Subfamily 1, Group F, Member 3
  • RORC protein, human
  • Receptors, Retinoic Acid
  • Receptors, Thyroid Hormone
  • DNA