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The prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus in the Oji-Cree of northwestern Ontario is the third highest in the world. A private mutation, G319S, in HNF1A, which encodes hepatic nuclear factor-1alpha (HNF-1alpha), was associated with Oji-Cree type 2 diabetes and was found in approximately 40% of affected subjects. The G319S mutation reduced the in vitro ability of HNF-1alpha to activate transcription by approximately 50%, with no effect on DNA binding or protein stability. There was no evidence of a dominant negative effect of the mutant protein. The impact of the G319S mutation at the population level was assessed by classifying subjects with type 2 diabetes according to HNF1A genotype and plotting the cumulative age of onset of diabetes. Disease onset was modeled satisfactorily by two-parameter sigmoidal functions for all diabetic subjects and all three HNF1A genotypes. Pairwise statistical comparisons showed significant between-genotype differences in t50 (all P < 0.00001), corresponding to the age at which half the subjects had become diabetic. Each dose of G319S accelerated median disease onset by approximately 7 years. Thus, the transactivation-deficient HNF1A G319S mutation affects the dynamics of disease onset. The demonstration of a functional consequence for HNF1A G319S provides a mechanistic basis for its strong association with Oji-Cree type 2 diabetes and its unparalleled specificity for diabetes prediction in these people, in whom diabetes presents a significant public health dilemma. The findings also show that HNF1A mutations can be associated with typical adult-onset insulin-resistant obesity-related diabetes in addition to maturity-onset diabetes of the young.