Open Access Research article

Deletion of Irs2 causes reduced kidney size in mice: role for inhibition of GSK3β?

Rosemarie M Carew1, Marianna Sadagurski4, Roel Goldschmeding5, Finian Martin2, Morris F White4 and Derek P Brazil3*

Author Affiliations

1 UCD Diabetes Research Centre, UCD Conway Institute, School of Medicine and Medical Science, University College Dublin, Belfield Dublin 4, Ireland

2 UCD Conway Institute, School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, University College Dublin, Belfield Dublin 4, Ireland

3 Centre for Vision and Vascular Science, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Science, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast BT12 6BA, Northern Ireland, UK

4 Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Division of Endocrinology, Children's Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA

5 Department of Pathology, University Medical Center Utrecht, Heidelberglaan 100, 3584 CX Utrecht, The Netherlands

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BMC Developmental Biology 2010, 10:73  doi:10.1186/1471-213X-10-73

Published: 6 July 2010



Male Irs2-/- mice develop fatal type 2 diabetes at 13-14 weeks. Defects in neuronal proliferation, pituitary development and photoreceptor cell survival manifest in Irs2-/- mice. We identify retarded renal growth in male and female Irs2-/- mice, independent of diabetes.


Kidney size and kidney:body weight ratio were reduced by approximately 20% in Irs2-/- mice at postnatal day 5 and was maintained in maturity. Reduced glomerular number but similar glomerular density was detected in Irs2-/- kidney compared to wild-type, suggesting intact global kidney structure. Analysis of insulin signalling revealed renal-specific upregulation of PKBβ/Akt2, hyperphosphorylation of GSK3β and concomitant accumulation of β-catenin in Irs2-/- kidney. Despite this, no significant upregulation of β-catenin targets was detected. Kidney-specific increases in Yes-associated protein (YAP), a key driver of organ size were also detected in the absence of Irs2. YAP phosphorylation on its inhibitory site Ser127 was also increased, with no change in the levels of YAP-regulated genes, suggesting that overall YAP activity was not increased in Irs2-/- kidney.


In summary, deletion of Irs2 causes reduced kidney size early in mouse development. Compensatory mechanisms such as increased β-catenin and YAP levels failed to overcome this developmental defect. These data point to Irs2 as an important novel mediator of kidney size.