Human monogenic diabetes, caused by mutations in genes involved in beta cell development and function, has been a challenge to study because multiple mouse models have not fully recapitulated the human disease. Here, we use genome edited human embryonic stem cells to understand the most common form of monogenic diabetes, MODY3, caused by mutations in the transcription factor HNF1A. We found that HNF1A is necessary to repress an alpha cell gene expression signature, maintain endocrine cell function, and regulate cellular metabolism. In addition, we identified the human-specific long non-coding RNA, LINKA, as an HNF1A target necessary for normal mitochondrial respiration. These findings provide a possible explanation for the species difference in disease phenotypes observed with HNF1A mutations and offer mechanistic insights into how the HNF1A gene may also influence type 2 diabetes.
Keywords: HNF1A; MODY3; beta cells; cell respiration; diabetes; embryonic stem cells; glycolysis; long non-coding RNA; pancreas.
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