A New Hypothesis for Type 1 Diabetes Risk: The At-Risk Allele at rs3842753 Associates With Increased Beta-Cell INS Messenger RNA in a Meta-Analysis of Single-Cell RNA-Sequencing Data

Can J Diabetes. 2021 Dec;45(8):775-784.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.jcjd.2021.03.007. Epub 2021 Apr 3.


Objectives: Type 1 diabetes is characterized by the autoimmune destruction of insulin-secreting beta cells. Genetic variants upstream at the insulin (INS) locus contribute to ∼10% of type 1 diabetes heritable risk. Previous studies showed an association between rs3842753 C/C genotype and type 1 diabetes susceptibility, but the molecular mechanisms remain unclear. To date, no large-scale studies have looked at the effect of genetic variation at rs3842753 on INS mRNA at the single-cell level.

Methods: We aligned all human islet single-cell RNA sequencing data sets available to us in year 2020 to the reference genome GRCh38.98 and genotyped rs3842753, integrating 2,315 β cells and 1,223 β-like cells from 13 A/A protected donors, 23 A/C heterozygous donors and 35 C/C at-risk donors, including adults without diabetes and with type 2 diabetes.

Results: INS expression mean and variance were significantly higher in single β cells from females compared with males. On comparing across β cells and β-like cells, we found that rs3842753 C‒containing cells (either homozygous or heterozygous) had the highest INS expression. We also found that β cells with the rs3842753 C allele had significantly higher endoplasmic reticulum stress marker gene expression compared with the A/A homozygous genotype.

Conclusions: These findings support the emerging concept that inherited risk of type 1 diabetes may be associated with inborn, persistent elevated insulin production, which may lead to β-cell endoplasmic reticulum stress and fragility.

Keywords: ARN-seq unicellulaire; VNTR; VNTR (de l’anglais, variable number of tandem repeats); diabète de type 1; expression d’insuline; genetics; génétique; insulin expression; single-cell RNAseq; type 1 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1* / genetics
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin / genetics
  • Male
  • Minisatellite Repeats
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics


  • Insulin
  • RNA, Messenger