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A rare loss-of-function variant p.Arg138* in SLC30A8 encoding the zinc transporter 8 (ZnT8) enriched in Western Finland protects against type 2 diabetes (T2D). We recruited relatives of the identified carriers and showed that protection was associated with better insulin secretion due to enhanced glucose responsiveness and proinsulin conversion, especially compared with individuals matched for the genotype of a common T2D risk variant in SLC30A8, p.Arg325. In genome-edited human IPS-derived β-like cells, we establish that the p.Arg138* variant results in reduced SLC30A8 expression due to haploinsufficiency. In human β-cells loss of SLC30A8 leads to increased glucose responsiveness and reduced KATP channel function, which was also seen in isolated islets from carriers of the T2D-protective allele p.Trp325. These data position ZnT8 as an appealing target for treatment aiming at maintaining insulin secretion capacity in T2D.

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