High Prevalence of a Monogenic Cause in Han Chinese Diagnosed With Type 1 Diabetes, Partly Driven by Nonsyndromic Recessive WFS1 Mutations

Diabetes. 2020 Jan;69(1):121-126. doi: 10.2337/db19-0510. Epub 2019 Oct 28.


It is estimated that ∼1% of European ancestry patients clinically diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) actually have monogenic forms of the disease. Because of the much lower incidence of true T1D in East Asians, we hypothesized that the percentage would be much higher. To test this, we sequenced the exome of 82 Chinese Han patients clinically diagnosed with T1D but negative for three autoantibodies. Analysis focused on established or proposed monogenic diabetes genes. We found credible mutations in 18 of the 82 autoantibody-negative patients (22%). All mutations had consensus pathogenicity support by five algorithms. As in Europeans, the most common gene was HNF1A (MODY3), in 6 of 18 cases. Surprisingly, almost as frequent were diallelic mutations in WFS1, known to cause Wolfram syndrome but also described in nonsyndromic cases. Fasting C-peptide varied widely and was not predictive. Given the 27.4% autoantibody negativity in Chinese and 22% mutation rate, we estimate that ∼6% of Chinese with a clinical T1D diagnosis have monogenic diabetes. Our findings support universal sequencing of autoantibody-negative cases as standard of care in East Asian patients with a clinical T1D diagnosis. Nonsyndromic diabetes with WSF1 mutations is not rare in Chinese. Its response to alternative treatments should be investigated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group* / genetics
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group* / statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • China / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genes, Recessive
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics*
  • Mutation*
  • Prevalence
  • Young Adult


  • Membrane Proteins
  • wolframin protein