The journal Nature Communications published the largest genomic study of type 2 diabetes (T2D) in sub-Saharan Africans, in which they analyzed nearly 18 million autosomal SNPs in 5,231 individuals from Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya (Nature, 2019). Researchers found that there was a connection between diabetes and genome-wide significant locus: ZRANB3 gene. They confirmed the ZRANB3 gene, might influence weakness to the T2D in sub-Saharan African populations. They studied its effects on the zebrafish pancreas; "the pancreas is one of the key organs involved in T2D because their β-cells release insulin as a response to rising glucose in the bloodstream" (NIH, 2019).
CRISPR, a gene-editing tool was used to make the ZRANB3 gene nonfunctional in zebrafish. This is called a 'knockout'. They also reduced the expression of the ZRANB3 gene in a different sample of zebrafish. Researchers observed β-cells were reduced numbers in the developing zebrafish embryo (Nature, 2019). They concluded that when the ZRANB3 gene was inactive, pancreatic β-cells were being destroyed. They conducted a similar experiment using mice and found similar results. They proposed an excellent question on this finding: will it help to predict whether the presence of ZRANB3 in an individual with T2D require insulin early in the course of its treatment? This is significant because it could save the destruction of β-cells over time. They also believed since ZRANB3 in T2D was discovered in African populations, the same gene might have same influence in other populations. I think this experiment was executed brilliantly considering they analyzed so much data before concluding. I think it is amazing that they want to continue the research with different pollutions and hope to find a similar association between T2D and ZRANB3 gene.
NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute. (2019, July 19). Largest genomic study on type 2 diabetes in sub-Saharan African populations. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 18, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/07/190719080212.htm
ZRANB3 is an African-specific type 2 diabetes locus associated with beta-cell mass and insulin response. (2019, July 19). Retrieved October 18, 2019, from https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-10967-7#article-info.