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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Electrophysiological and behavioral phenotype of insulin receptor defective mice.

The olfactory bulb expresses one of the highest levels of insulin found in the brain. A high level of expression of the concomitant insulin receptor (IR) kinase is also retained in this brain region, even in the adult. We have previously demonstrated in a heterologous system that insulin modulates the voltage-dependent potassium channel, Kv1.3, through tyrosine phosphorylation of three key residues in the amino and carboxyl terminus of the channel protein. Phosphorylation also induces current suppression of the Kv1.3-contributed current in cultured olfactory bulb neurons (OBNs) of rodents. In order to explore the behavioral importance of this kinase-induced modulation of the channel for the olfactory ability of the animal, mice with a targeted-gene deletion of the insulin receptor were electrophysiologically and behaviorally characterized. Mice heterozygous for the insulin receptor kinase (IR+/-) gene performed the same as wild-type (+/+) mice when challenged with a traditional, non-learning-based task to test gross anosmia. There was also no significant difference across the two genotypes in tests designed to measure exploratory behavior or in a battery of systems physiology experiments designed to assess metabolic energy usage (locomotion, ingestive behaviors, weight, oxygen consumption, and respiratory quotient). Object memory recognition tests suggest that IR+/- mice have an impairment in recognition of familiarized objects; IR+/- mice demonstrate poor performance for both short-term (1 h) and long-term (24 h) memory tests in comparison to that of wild-type mice. Electrophysiological experiments indicate that mitral cell neurons cultured from both heterozygous and homozygous-null mice (IR+/- and IR-/-) have an decreased peak current amplitude compared with that recorded for wild-type (+/+) animals matched for days in vitro (DIV). These data indicate that the loss of one allele of the IR kinase gene modifies the electrical phenotype of the mitral cell neurons in the olfactory bulb without a change in gross olfactory ability. Given our findings that there are no significant changes in metabolic balance of the IR (+/-) mice but some impairment in memory retention, future experiments testing for specific olfactory behaviors or functional deficits in IR-/+ mice models of diabetes will need to either be tasks that do not require learning or will require a different model (such as diet-induced diabetes) that may evoke a stronger phenotype.[1]


  1. Electrophysiological and behavioral phenotype of insulin receptor defective mice. Das, P., Parsons, A.D., Scarborough, J., Hoffman, J., Wilson, J., Thompson, R.N., Overton, J.M., Fadool, D.A. Physiol. Behav. (2005) [Pubmed]
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