Front Genet. 2023 Dec 14;14:1224284. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2023.1224284. eCollection 2023.
Introduction: Monogenic diabetes (MD) accounts for 3%-6% of all cases of diabetes. This prevalence is underestimated due to its overlapping clinical features with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Hence, genetic testing is the most appropriate tool for obtaining an accurate diagnosis. In Tunisia, few cohorts of MD have been investigated until now. The aim of this study is to search for pathogenic variants among 11 patients suspected of having MD in Tunisia using whole-exome sequencing (WES). Materials and methods: WES was performed in 11 diabetic patients recruited from a collaborating medical center. The pathogenicity of genetic variation was assessed using combined filtering and bioinformatics prediction tools. The online ORVAL tool was used to predict the likelihood of combinations of pathogenic variations. Then, Sanger sequencing was carried out to confirm likely pathogenic predicted variants among patients and to check for familial segregation. Finally, for some variants, we performed structural modeling to study their impact on protein function. Results: We identified novel variants related to MD in Tunisia. Pathogenic variants are located in several MODY and non-MODY genes. We highlighted the presence of syndromic forms of diabetes, including the Bardet-Biedl syndrome, Alström syndrome, and severe insulin resistance, as well as the presence of isolated diabetes with significantly reduced penetrance for Wolfram syndrome-related features. Idiopathic type 1 diabetes was also identified in one patient. Conclusion: In this study, we emphasized the importance of genetic screening for MD in patients with a familial history of diabetes, mainly among admixed and under-represented populations living in low- and middle-income countries. An accurate diagnosis with molecular investigation of MD may improve the therapeutic choice for better management of patients and their families. Additional research and rigorous investigations are required to better understand the physiopathological mechanisms of MD and implement efficient therapies that take into account genomic context and other related factors.