Video Abstract (AI generated) (01:25)PaperPreprint
Metabolic dysregulation in multiple tissues alters glucose homeostasis and influences risk for type 2 diabetes (T2D). To identify pathways and tissues influencing T2D-relevant glycemic traits (fasting glucose [FG], fasting insulin [FI], two-hour glucose [2hGlu] and glycated hemoglobin [HbA1c]), we investigated associations of exome-array variants in up to 144,060 individuals without diabetes of multiple ancestries. Single-variant analyses identified novel associations at 21 coding variants in 18 novel loci, whilst gene-based tests revealed signals at two genes, TF (HbA1c) and G6PC (FG, FI). Pathway and tissue enrichment analyses of trait-associated transcripts confirmed the importance of liver and kidney for FI and pancreatic islets for FG regulation, implicated adipose tissue in FI and the gut in 2hGlu, and suggested a role for the non-endocrine pancreas in glucose homeostasis. Functional studies demonstrated that a novel FG/FI association at the liver-enriched G6PC transcript was driven by multiple rare loss-of-function variants. The FG/HbA1c-associated, islet-specific G6PC2 transcript also contained multiple rare functional variants, including two alleles within the same codon with divergent effects on glucose levels. Our findings highlight the value of integrating genomic and functional data to maximize biological inference.