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Diabetes. 2014 May;63(5):1572-82. doi: 10.2337/db13-0651. Epub 2014 Jan 31.

Preserved energy balance in mice lacking FoxO1 in neurons of Nkx2.1 lineage reveals functional heterogeneity of FoxO1 signaling within the hypothalamus.

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  • 1Berrie Diabetes Center, Department of Medicine, College of Physicians & Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY.


Transcription factor forkhead box O1 (FoxO1) regulates energy expenditure (EE), food intake, and hepatic glucose production. These activities have been mapped to specific hypothalamic neuronal populations using cell type-specific knockout experiments in mice. To parse out the integrated output of FoxO1-dependent transcription from different neuronal populations and multiple hypothalamic regions, we used transgenic mice expressing Cre recombinase from the Nkx2.1 promoter to ablate loxP-flanked Foxo1 alleles from a majority of hypothalamic neurons (Foxo1KO(Nkx2.1) mice). This strategy resulted in the expected inhibition of FoxO1 expression, but only produced a transient reduction of body weight as well as a decreased body length. The transient decrease of body weight in male mice was accompanied by decreased fat mass. Male Foxo1KO(Nkx2.1) mice show food intake similar to that in wild-type controls, and, although female knockout mice eat less, they do so in proportion to a reduced body size. EE is unaffected in Foxo1KO(Nkx2.1) mice, although small increases in body temperature are present. Unlike other neuron-specific Foxo1 knockout mice, Foxo1KO(Nkx2.1) mice are not protected from diet-induced obesity. These studies indicate that, unlike the metabolic effects of highly restricted neuronal subsets (proopiomelanocortin, neuropeptide Y/agouti-related peptide, and steroidogenic factor 1), those of neurons derived from the Nkx2.1 lineage either occur in a FoxO1-independent fashion or are compensated for through developmental plasticity.

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