Rare variants in PPARG with decreased activity in adipocyte differentiation are associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARG) is a master transcriptional regulator of adipocyte differentiation and a canonical target of antidiabetic thiazolidinedione medications. In rare families, loss-of-function (LOF) mutations in PPARG are known to cosegregate with lipodystrophy and insulin resistance; in the general population, the common P12A variant is associated with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D). Whether and how rare variants in PPARG and defects in adipocyte differentiation influence risk of T2D in the general population remains undetermined. By sequencing PPARG in 19,752 T2D cases and controls drawn from multiple studies and ethnic groups, we identified 49 previously unidentified, nonsynonymous PPARG variants (MAF < 0.5%). Considered in aggregate (with or without computational prediction of functional consequence), these rare variants showed no association with T2D (OR = 1.35; P = 0.17). The function of the 49 variants was experimentally tested in a novel high-throughput human adipocyte differentiation assay, and nine were found to have reduced activity in the assay. Carrying any of these nine LOF variants was associated with a substantial increase in risk of T2D (OR = 7.22; P = 0.005). The combination of large-scale DNA sequencing and functional testing in the laboratory reveals that approximately 1 in 1,000 individuals carries a variant in PPARG that reduces function in a human adipocyte differentiation assay and is associated with a substantial risk of T2D.


  • GoT2D Consortium
  • Amit R Majithia
  • Jason Flannick
  • Peter Shahinian
  • Michael Guo
  • Mark-Anthony Bray
  • Pierre Fontanillas
  • Stacey B Gabriel
  • Evan D Rosen
  • David Altshuler
  • Jasmina Kravic (Contributor)
External organisations
  • Broad Institute
  • Harvard Medical School
  • Massachusetts General Hospital
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Endocrinology and Diabetes


  • Adipocytes/pathology, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Case-Control Studies, Cell Differentiation/genetics, Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2/genetics, Ethnic Groups/genetics, Female, Genetic Predisposition to Disease, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, PPAR gamma/genetics, Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide/genetics, Risk Factors, Sequence Analysis, DNA
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13127-32
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number36
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Sep 9
Publication categoryResearch