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Experimental Diabesity Research
Volume 4 (2003), Issue 3, Pages 169-182

Knockout Mice Challenge our Concepts of Glucose Homeostasis and the Pathogenesis of Diabetes

1Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard University Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
2Research Division, Joslin Diabetes Center, One Joslin Place, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA

Received 22 September 2003; Accepted 30 September 2003

Copyright © 2003 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A central component of type 2 diabetes and the metabolic syndrome is insulin resistance. Insulin exerts a multifaceted and highly integrated series of actions via its intracellular signaling systems. Generation of mice carrying null mutations of the genes encoding proteins in the insulin signaling pathway provides a unique approach to determining the role of individual proteins in the molecular mechanism of insulin action and the pathogenesis of insulin resistance and diabetes. The role of the four major insulin receptor substrates (IRS1-4) in insulin and IGF-1 signaling have been examined by creating mice with targeted gene knockouts. Each produces a unique phenotype, indicating the complementary role of these signaling components. Combined heterozygous defects often produce synergistic or epistatic effects, although the final severity of the phenotype depends on the genetic background of the mice. Conditional knockouts of the insulin receptor have also been created using the Cre-lox system. These tissue specific knockouts have provide unique insights into the control of glucose homeostasis and the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes, and have led to development of new hypotheses about the nature of the insulin action and development of diabetes.