CRG researchers create 3D genome maps to find genetic mechanisms associated with type-2 diabetes

CRG researchers create 3D genome maps to find genetic mechanisms associated with type-2 diabetes

News from CRG

Researchers from the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) have created a 3D map of the genome to find the genetic mechanisms associated with the development of type-2 diabetes.

The study takes another step forward in understanding the molecular mechanisms that cause the disease, and also demonstrates that it is possible to define the genetic risk of developing type-2 diabetes, opening up new horizons for the development of personalised drugs that treat the condition.

In the past decade, scientists have identified more than 200 regions of the human genome associated with variants of genetic material that increase the risk of developing type-2 diabetes. However, in most cases, these DNA variants are located in areas of the genome removed from the genes, creating confusion about the molecular mechanisms that lead to type-2 diabetes, and which ultimately affect the insulin-producing pancreatic cells (insulin is the hormone responsible for controlling blood sugar levels).

A new piece of work coordinated by Jorge Ferrer, recently published by Nature Genetics, takes another step towards deciphering the significance of these variants associated with type 2 diabetes.

The investigators created a 3D map of the genome, particularly in the insulin-producing pancreatic cells. It showed that regions of the genome with genetic variants associated with type-2 diabetes, and which are distant from any gene in conventional one-dimensional maps, form folds that bring them into contact with genes that play a major role in insulin-producing cells. These studies therefore make it possible to link the genetic switches to their target genes spatially, and thus identify the genes that play a role in the onset of type-2 diabetes.


Miguel-Escalada I et al. Human pancreatic islet three-dimensional chromatin architecture provides insights into the genetics of type 2 diabetes. 2019. Nature Genetics 51, 1137–1148. doi: 10.1038/s41588-019-0457-0

More information:
CRG website