Irx3 and Irx5 in Ins2-Cre + cells regulate hypothalamic postnatal neurogenesis and leptin response

Nat Metab. 2021 Apr 15. doi: 10.1038/s42255-021-00382-y. Online ahead of print.


Obesity is mainly due to excessive food intake. IRX3 and IRX5 have been suggested as determinants of obesity in connection with the intronic variants of FTO, but how these genes contribute to obesity via changes in food intake remains unclear. Here, we show that mice doubly heterozygous for Irx3 and Irx5 mutations exhibit lower food intake with enhanced hypothalamic leptin response. By lineage tracing and single-cell RNA sequencing using the Ins2-Cre system, we identify a previously unreported radial glia-like neural stem cell population with high Irx3 and Irx5 expression in early postnatal hypothalamus and demonstrate that reduced dosage of Irx3 and Irx5 promotes neurogenesis in postnatal hypothalamus leading to elevated numbers of leptin-sensing arcuate neurons. Furthermore, we find that mice with deletion of Irx3 in these cells also exhibit a similar food intake and hypothalamic phenotype. Our results illustrate that Irx3 and Irx5 play a regulatory role in hypothalamic postnatal neurogenesis and leptin response.